January 2024



“If we can teach people about wildlife, they will be touched. Share my wildlife with me. Because humans want to save things that they love.”

― Steve Irwin

Ten Years In

MLT Celebrates

Acquiring Pelican Bluffs

It’s time to celebrate the 10th anniversary of one of the Land Trust’s prize acquisitions-Pelican Bluffs! Join us January 20th, 11 am, as we gather there to hike, take pictures, and chat over warm beverages. You also can buy a commemorative T-shirt while supplies last. Details are below and on our website.

You can check out a map and stunning images by clicking here.

The history of Pelican Bluffs is documented on our website, along with maps and photos. There, you’ll read that on Dec. 6, 2013, Mendocino Land Trust purchased a beautiful 73-acre property south of Point Arena from the California Institute of Environmental Studies (CIES). It was named “Pelican Bluffs” in honor of the important work conducted by Frank Gress of CIES documenting eggshell thinning and reproductive failure of California brown pelicans. Through the years, his research and conservation efforts were instrumental to the recovery of California brown pelican populations in the Channel Islands, and we are proud to honor that environmental achievement with our preserve. 

The California State Coastal Conservancy funded the purchase, which protects endangered species' habitats and supports the construction of a new segment of the California Coastal Trail. This stunning preserve offers habitat for a federally-listed endangered species, the Point Arena Mountain Beaver.

Ten years later, we are still thrilled that we were able to conserve Pelican Bluffs. 

In 2017 MLT began building a new public trail, thanks to funding from the Coastal Conservancy. If you’ve never visited this trail, now is a great time to do so as we celebrate our 10th anniversary of this acquisition with a hike. Come join us! Hiking at Pelican Bluffs is generally easy and consists of low grades and a few stairs.

Folks can choose two options on the 20th, a very short 0.5-mile loop near the parking lot or a longer 1.7-mile hike through the coastal prairie with blufftop views. Or, you can just hang out with us at the trailhead and have a warm beverage. 

If you opt for the hike, you’ll experience a 1.7 mile trail with lush grassy fields surrounded by trees, a perfect spot for a picnic. From there, the path is enveloped by deep verdant Bishop pine forest before revealing the dramatic coastal landscape. The trail continues over a small bridge and down toward the bluff edge, with dramatic sheer, white cliffs plunging to the sea below. This is a great spot to see the peregrine falcons that nest nearby. From there the trail loops back, this time through the wide coastal prairie, before returning to the parking lot.

If you can’t make it but would still like a T-shirt, check out this link. This stunning shirt was designed by MLT’s Stewardship Project Manager, Anna Bride. 

We hope to see you there.

MLT Lands

$1.5 Million

Pollinator Grant 

A small butterfly just got a big break.

MLT will begin work this month as it coordinates a team of experts to bolster the population of the Behren’s Silverspot butterfly, a federally endangered species. In December, the Wildlife Conservation Board awarded MLT a $1.5 million dollar grant to work with State Parks, the Bureau of Land Management, the Laguna Foundation, the Sequoia Park Zoo, and Wynn Coastal Planning & Biology. This joint, team-effort will oversee a multi-stage, four-year plan to help this butterfly, once a common sight on the Northern California coast.

The restoration will collectively cover 53 acres. 

MLT’s Stewardship Project Manager, Anna Bride, spearheaded the grant-writing process. Executive Director Conrad Kramer acknowledged the importance and magnitude of this grand-award.

"With the staunch support of hundreds of biophile MLT donors, we were able to dedicate the staff time to work with our partners to secure the funding to allow us to restore habitat for this tiny beautiful creature," Kramer said.

The first phase of this project entails habitat restoration. Paid staff and volunteers from these agencies will remove invasive plant species in three different North Coast locations, and then plant more than 35,000 native plants reared in nurseries. These native species will include a mix of native grasses, early blue violets, and other nectar species.

The focus of this effort is in multiple sites. The number of native species to be replanted varies from site-to-site and includes planting seeds at some locations as well as using controlled grazing to eliminate invasive plants in others.

This plant-restoration effort will continue for several years.

In addition to habitat restoration, the grant will fund a two-year program of captive rearing of the butterflies. Experts from the Sequoia Zoo will collect female butterflies from the wild in late summer and the butterflies’ eggs will be hatched in a protected environment. The caterpillars will be raised to the pupae stage.

Then, the following summer, 50-200 butterflies will be released into the improved habitat. Their numbers will be monitored each season for three years thereafter.

The grant writing process is demanding and requires abundant documentation as well as establishing solid collaboration among many agencies. MLT’s winning this grant is a victory for the butterfly and a testimony to the dedication of all of these organizations.

The WCB was established in 1947, and it has evolved today to be an organization that has three primary goals: land acquisition, habitat restoration and development of wildlife oriented public access facilities.

On its website, WCB details 17 programs, ranging from butterfly rescue to forest and desert conservation. You can see the full range of its efforts at this link. 

In memoriam: Betty Barber

MLT wishes to acknowledge its deep debt to Betty Barber, who passed on December 2, 2023.

She was 103 years old.

Betty was a visionary and dedicated conservationist who, along with her partner Grail Dawson, were essential players in the early days of MLT’s work. Their efforts set MLT on the path to become what it is today. It is impossible to overstate the importance of their contribution.

Grail passed in 2019.

In a radio interview back in May of 2020, Betty told KZYX interviewer Jim Culp that her interest in tennis led her to the Mendocino Tennis Club. In 1977, Betty arrived in town with a new car and a new sleeping bag to begin her life in Fort Bragg. 

"I played tennis very early in my life and enjoyed it,” Betty said in this interview, “and I was able to be a teacher, a pretty good teacher. In fact, one of the reasons I moved up here was the Mendocino Tennis Club. I enjoyed my life then because of tennis." 

It was on those courts that she met the man that was to become a life-long partner, Grail Dawson.

"I did meet him (Grail) there and enjoyed playing with him. I didn't always like the way he played, or some of the strokes that he had, but he was a good player and a good competitor. And we had a lot of fun.''

Betty and Grail not only played together, they worked, and worked hard. They fought poorly planned development that threatened the area’s environment, culture, and unique lifestyle. 

In a June 2018 interview in the Mendocino Beacon, Betty recounted some of her early efforts. She and Grail worked together in radio as reporters for the Mendocino News Service. She became familiar with the people of Mendocino County by interviewing many of them. According to the Beacon, their efforts helped keep MLT together until there was money to hire a professional to run the non-profit. 

Chet Anderson, a long-time MLT Board member, recalled his time with her. “Betty and Grail were the inspiration for me. Because of them, I saw the value of the organization (MLT). I had a small vision and innocence, I wasn't even aware of all the possibilities.“

But this soon changed as he became deeply involved with the causes and campaigns of those times. Anderson retells the highlights below.

“Her personality was big, and she touched a lot of lives,” Anderson said. “They (Betty and Grail) came along at a time when MLT needed leadership and work, and they provided this.

“There are a lot of people who identify Betty with the Land Trust and the Land Trust with Betty. It's hard when there is a couple to separate their work. Grail and she were partners and owned a home together. Grail was a bit more of a politician, an activist, Betty was behind him. There were two big coastal projects, one was at Navarro Point. Betty and Grail were very much involved.

"The other one that is important, south of Mendocino, overlooking the Bay. There’s a piece of land privately owned that had beautiful ocean views and ocean access. The people who owned it wanted to build a house on an adjacent property. They had no interest in coastal access or letting the public share it. But the Coastal Commission, when the owners went to get the permit, extracted something from them to approve the project. So, in this case, the Commission extracted a public easement. The owners then built a house overlooking Big River Bay. 

“Now, the Coastal Commission can create an easement, but it has no meaning unless someone accepts the responsibility for it,” Anderson explained. “That’s what MLT did, and it's the best viewing site of Mendocino Bay and the town of Mendocino.

"This easement and trail access entailed some controversy because the owner didn't like that, even though they were getting the benefit of Coastal Commission approval. The owners actually sued the Land Trust, and this is where Betty and Grail got involved because MLT didn't have money to hire attorneys. But Betty organized a dinner at the Cafe Beaujolais to hire an attorney. It might not have been necessary, ultimately, but we did prevail. The owner had to go away. It was still his land, but the easement remained.

“The dinner at the Cafe–from my perspective– was one of the most notable things Betty did. It set in motion the gradual, upward movement in terms of ability in terms of what we (MLT) could do and our reach…. Good hires, continual progress, outreach, projects, larger scope of the conservation easements. Not as sexy as acquiring Navarro Point, but they are an extremely important part of the project.”

Betty and Grail also were instrumental in acquiring and helping conserve the Big River Estuary.

All of this, and much more, happened because Betty and Grail were among the leaders of a group dedicated to conserving the land and providing public access. These two embodied the core mission of MLT. MLT is today, what it is, in no small part because of the dedicated work of Betty.

And, by all accounts, Betty also had a long and satisfying life all along the way.

In the radio interview, celebrating her 100th birthday, she said that she found satisfaction in “having friends, having fun, and being able to laugh. … I live in an incredible area, and I have had the love of two fine men in my life," she said. Her advice on reaching a ripe old age is worth noting, too.

“Drink a lot of water. Try to eat good. Try not to get too impatient. Try to control some of the negative things, and just go on being lucky."

Betty was, herself, lucky–a woman loved and admired by many.

She will be missed. 

If you would like to remember her in meditation, we suggest you head out to one of Betty and Grail’s favorite spots, the Mendocino Bay viewpoint, where MLT erected a bench in 2012 in honor of the two of them. Click here for information.

King Tides Walk

"Snap the Shore - See the Future"

Come to Glass Beach February 9th and look into your future.

Lorrie Lagasse, Environmental Educator and MLT Board Member, and Esme Plasencia, Latino Outdoors Program Coordinator, will lead us as we participate in the King Tides Project, an ongoing effort to document what rising sea levels will look like. Click here to see photos from previous years. 

The outing is planned for Friday, February 9th, at 9 am. This time was chosen to coincide with the very high tide expected to crest at about 9:30 am. We'll meet at the beach side of the Glass Beach parking lot. We’ll be walking the loop around to the Trestle Bridge, taking pictures and hopefully enjoying a glorious day on the Coast!

After the walk, you are encouraged to upload your photos to the King Tides Project website with this link

King Tides are typically one- to two-feet higher than the ordinary high tides. They occur when the Sun, Moon and Earth are aligned in a particular way that maximizes the gravitational pull on the ocean. The term “King Tides” isn’t a scientific term, but rather a way of describing these natural, recurring, but not everyday events. They offer an opportunity for us to see what everyday sea levels will look like as the ice caps melt.

When King Tides occur during storms or flooding, water levels can rise even higher and cause great damage to the coastline and coastal property. If you end up going elsewhere along the coast to take pictures, make sure you exercise caution, especially during inclement weather, as “rogue” or “sleeper” waves can come much further up the shore. When near the water, always face the waves and be sure to add an extra margin of safety by staying further back and using your zoom lens! If you must be close to the water, wear a life vest.

We recommend that you click here to read the US Forest Service’s suggestions regarding wave-watching. 

Upcoming Events

Click here to see our events calendar.

  • January - Pelican Bluffs Hike

  • February - King Tides Walk/Photo Shoot, "Snap the Shore-See the Future"

  • March - Whale Watching at Pelican Bluffs
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