River Watch Header Image

Save Tomales Dunes

Dear Friends and Tomales Dunes Supporters,
EAC has been working for over ten years to protect the Tomales Dunes because it is a priceless, irreplaceable ecosystem!
Tomales Dunes has the richest collection of seasonal dunes wetlands in central California and supports at least 9 rare, threatened or endangered species.
At Tomales Dunes, winds carve depressions in the exposed sands of the bare dunes. Where these depressions are fed by groundwater, rain, or intermittent surface streams, they develop into rich and unique seasonal wetlands, ranging from freshwater ponds, to marshes, to wet meadows.
Tomales Dunes is a wetland paradise, with the richest collection of these seasonal dunes wetlands – known collectively as “dune slacks” – in central California.
The same subterranean waters that feed the slacks have also created an amazing “Grand Canyon of the Sands” which is re-cut and reshaped by wet winters by a rain-fed underground spring, the only such dune canyon in Central California.
Tomales Dunes is an ancient system, but one that is perpetually forming itself anew. In the last few decades, this ancient system has come under increasing pressure from ranching, quarrying, and recreational vehicles.

WHAT MAKES THE TOMALES DUNES SO SPECIAL?

Just where Tomales Bay meets the Pacific Ocean lies Marin County’s least-known ecological treasure, Tomales Dunes, which is a complex of several distinct habitats, including: mature mobile dunes, central dune scrub, dune prairie, and dune wetlands.

Tomales Dunes are surrounded by and connected to a rich coastal environment that includes coastal prairie, coastal scrub, salt marsh, tidal flats, bay and ocean.

These dunes are responsible for much of the unique character of Tomales Bay and surrounding area. They provide a buffer to the prevailing westerly winds and modify the tides, one that is more complex, hospitable, and biologically diverse than a simple marine inlet.

More than 40 species of waders and waterfowl find their winter roosting and feeding grounds at Tomales Dunes. It is one of only eight sites in North America where Pacific golden plovers have been known to overwinter.

Since 1954, more than half of these rare mobile dunes have been lost, mostly to the invasive European beach grass and iceplant.

How much longer can the Tomales Dunes survive intact?

FACTS ABOUT LAWSON’S LANDING

Lawson’s Landing is the largest RV campground on California’s Coast.

Yet, it has operated without any land use permits or an approved, permitted septic system for decades.

Years of operation without the required permits has caused significant degradation of wetlands and other environmentally sensitive habitat areas.

For years, up to 1000 RVs have overnighted at a time, many of them parking in the sensitive dunes wetlands.

There are also 233 travel trailers permanently parked adjacent to the shoreline that are served by over 100 unpermitted cesspits.

Send a Letter to the Coastal Commission Today!
A Personalized Letter Makes the Greatest Impact, Please Take a Few Minutes to Write Your Letter and Send It In Today!

Recreation and natural resource protection can co-exist at Lawson’s Landing, but only if the Coastal Commission ensures that unpermitted uses do not continue once a coastal permit is issued, and that:

**All wetlands and sensitive habitats are identified, protected, and given appropriate buffers.

**A restoration, monitoring and management plan is put in place that will restore the natural hydrology of the wetlands, reverse the loss of mobile dunes, and identify and protect listed and special-status species.

**All camping spaces are open to the public, not reserved for the lucky few who hold private long-term leases over prime shoreline camping areas while being served by unpermitted cess pits.

Mail or Fax Your Letter to the Coastal Commission Today!

Please use the talking points above to send a letter to the California Coastal Commission.

Please personalize your letter by adding your own thoughts and perspective. We need to show that our commitment level to protecting the precious Tomales Dunes is just as important and personal to us!

Mail your letter to: The Commissioners California Coastal Commission 45 Fremont Street Suite 2000 San Francisco, CA 94105

Or Fax your letter: (415) 904-5400

For a sample letter, visit: eacmarin.org and click on Tomales Dunes links.
The following letter can be copied or altered to express your own concerns. Please add the date and your name and address. You can mail it to Coastal Commission at the address below. You may also email it torpap@coastal.ca.gov with “Lawson’s Landing comment” in the subject line, but there is no guarantee that emails will reach the Commissioners in time.

DATE
The Commissioners
California Coastal Commission
45 Fremont St. Suite 2000
San Francisco, Ca 94105-5260

Re: Lawson’s Landing, Dillon Beach, Marin County, CA

Dear Commissioners,
Tomales Dunes is the largest unprotected dune system on the central coast. Years of unpermitted development have resulted in serious damage to the wetlands and mobile dunes that make it unique on the central coast. The wetlands have been drained and trampled by RVs, cars and livestock, and the mobile dunes have shrunk from 390 acres in 1954 to fewer than 170 acres today.

Nonetheless Lawson’s Landing could be a wonderful place for Californians and visitors to enjoy our beautiful coast. Recreation and natural resource protection can co-exist at Lawson’s Landing, only if you ensure that:
• all wetlands and sensitive habitats are identified, protected, and given appropriate buffers;
• a restoration, monitoring and management plan that will restore the natural hydrology of the wetlands, reverse the loss of mobile dunes, and identify and protect listed and special-status species, including the Western Snowy Plover, is implemented;
• all camping spaces are open to the public, not reserved for the lucky few who hold private long-term leases over prime camping areas;
• unpermitted uses do not continue once a coastal permit is issued.

The owners of Lawson’s Landing are willing to make some changes, but after years of enjoying unfettered use of the property, they argue that they need special treatment to ensure their desired rate of return. Lawson’s Landing should be held to the same standards as other businesses and households in California. The Coastal Act should not be selectively enforced.

After nearly half a century of unpermitted uses, we now have the opportunity to restore and protect this extraordinary site for future generations of all species to enjoy. Please protect Tomales Dunes, coastal access, and the Coastal Act.
Thank you.

Sincerely,
YOUR NAME
YOUR ADDRESS
wishing you waves
Cea Higgins
Volunteer Coordinator
Sonoma Coast Chapter of Surfrider