By Kent Gray

Triplicate staff writer

Del Norte County became the home to Californias most recent state park yesterday.

Approval to designate Tolowa Dunes State Park was received yesterday morning during a public meeting of the California State Park and Recreation Commission in Eureka. Previously, the state-owned land was dubbed the Lake Earl Project.

Del Norte County should welcome the newest state park in California, said Redwood State Park Superintendent Rick Sermon. With this state park status, this will elevate it in the eyes of the public.

But dont look for this park on a map just yet because the boundaries are yet to be worked out, Sermon said.

Theres not really a good accurate map of the area right now, said Sermon. We are working on some land transfers with the Department of Fish and Game trading property because they have some hunting areas that arent allowed in park land so we need to work some details out on that.

Generally, the land in question falls in the Lake Earl Wildlife Area.

Del Norte County Supervisor Chuck Blackburn said yesterday morning he was concerned the Board of Supervisors was not approached before Fridays park meeting.

Just as a courtesy, it would have been nice if they had come to us at some point about this, said Blackburn. Not that it would have made any difference, but something could have taken place here before it ended up in Eureka ... and just to have let us know this was coming up.

Sermon said, per law, the meeting was announced twice and he thought it was well advertised.

We had some people from Del Norte County, folks from the Smith River Rancheria and from the Audubon Society, said Sermon. Basically, this classification simply allows us to now finally do something with the property. Without a plan, you cant do anything with it.

Sermon said he wishes to work jointly with Fish and Game on the park and will be seeking funds from Sacramento for possible camping, hiking and horse trails in the park.

Sermon also noted the historical significance of the property.

There are areas in the park that are very significant to the Tolowa people. There is an old burial site and a massacre site that are important, said Sermon. There are some sites out there that are the most significant in North America, according to archaeologists.

Sermon said it will take some time for the new park to take root.

The general plan process generally takes two to three years to complete. It just takes a long time, Sermon said.