FORT BRAGG, 5/27/23 — People can now take all the driftwood they can carry from Noyo Beach. Driftwood can become a hazard during fireworks shows, such as the one that follows the World’s Largest Salmon Barbeque, scheduled for July 1. In years past, wood has been removed by City Public Works crews, controlled burns by Parlin Forks or the Volunteer Fire Department, and by people who obtained permits to remove wood debris from the beach.
This year the city is dispensing with permits and saying “Come and take it!” Noyo Beach is located west of the Noyo Bridge. It is accessed by taking North Harbor Drive at the north end of the bridge and driving all the way to the end of the road.
Noyo Beach is controlled by the City of Fort Bragg. Collecting driftwood is not legal on state park beaches. Noyo Beach is also one of two official off-leash dog beaches on the coast, the other being Seaside Beach just north of Ten Mile Bridge, between Inglenook and Westport. Seaside Beach is controlled by the Mendocino Land Trust. Blues Beach, just to the north of Seaside Beach, is also a non-state parks Beach. Parts of it are being transferred to Native American tribes through a nonprofit the tribes started. People have ridden motorized vehicles on that beach for decades.
But the free driftwood edict applies only to Noyo Beach, not to Seaside or Blues.
Beach wood removal on Noyo Beach will be allowed until Friday, June 30, 2023 by persons who abide by the following conditions:
• Wood removal from the beach must take place during daylight hours.
• Persons removing wood shall follow all park rules displayed on beach property signage.
• Persons removing wood shall be respectful and cautious of all citizens on the beach and shall use safe work practices at all times, especially near citizens and pets.
• Persons removing wood shall do a site cleanup at the end of each day to ensure that any litter or debris gets removed from the site.
• This notice does not permit any closures of the beach or give persons removing wood any more right to any area of the beach or trails than other citizens using the beach and trails.
• No person shall drive any motorized vehicle beyond the limits of the paved parking areas regularly accessible by private vehicles.
Anyone wishing to collect wood in any manner beyond those conditions listed above shall submit a Noyo Beach Access Permit application and provide proof of liability insurance to the
City of Fort Bragg to receive authorization from the Public Works Department prior to any gathering.
Questions regarding this information should be directed to Chantell O’Neal, Assistant Director, Engineering, at (707) 961-2823 ext. 133. Studies show that driftwood is crucial to the formation of estuaries, sand dunes and sand migration. Much of the driftwood found on local beaches had stopped floating years ago and sunk to the bottom of the ocean, where high pressure and ocean chemistry transformed it into something new. On the bottom of the ocean for decades or centuries, the air in the wood is squeezed out and is often replaced by sand and salts. It is thrown up, along with sand when it is picked up by a deep water current and then a storm.
Driftwood is a thrilling medium for many artists. It makes terrific landscaping. Please note if you believe you can stock up on free firewood for next winter: Seasalt often releases toxins when burned. Driftwood also can have algae and fungi inside and should be left outside until dry. Driftwood can be packed with sand, which can damage saws or create other cutting hazards. Read this before attempting to burn driftwood.