By Jennifer Henion
Triplicate staff writer
The Point St. George bluffs and former Tolowa Indian village site are not well known to visitors of Del Norte County.
Del Norte County Supervisor Martha McClure hopes that will soon change. She's working on a plan to create a trail system and Tolowa museum and interpretive center on the land with help from the state and local Tolowas .
"It's slow starting, but once it gets going, it should be pretty great," said McClure yesterday about a plan to make the Point an informative and enjoyable destination.
The 400-acre stretch of coastal bluffs was privately owned and occasionally used for cow grazing until last year.
It was purchased with hopes for conservation by the California Coastal Commission, with help from the Smith River Rancheria, for $3 million, then handed over to the county to manage.
Since then, McClure, who is also a boardmember of the Del Norte Historical Society, has headed the effort, along with county planner Ernie Perry, to clear the bureaucratic hurdles necessary to create the trails and museum.
Most recently, the county won a $50,000 grant to hire a professional consulting firm that can draft a timeline and plan for the new park.
"The management plan will identify actions to protect and enhance natural, cultural and historical resources while providing public access to the coastline ... This plan is essential to apply for funding assistance," said Perry, director of the county's Community Development Department.
The firm Roberts, Kemp and Associates LLC was hired for the task. It is a team made up of biologists, an anthropological researcher and an engineer.
After assessing the 400 acres and identifying its plant, animal and cultural aspects, the firm will conduct public meetings to hear local desires for the future of the park.
McClure said part of the land will be used as a buffer zone for the airport ¬ó a requirement of the Federal Aviation Administration.
Cow grazing of that buffer zone will likely be used to keep the vegetation managed.
Once the plan is completed, including details of the museum and interpretive center for the Tolowa Indian village, McClure said she envisions applying for grants to build a state-of-the-art facility that could better care for Tolowa artifacts now housed in the historical society museum downtown.
She said she expects the planning process to begin next month.