HUMBOLDT COASTAL NATURE CENTER

 

THE NATURE CENTER

Open Wednesday - Sunday 10 a.m. to 4 p.m.
Trails & restrooms open during daylight hours 
220 Stamps Lane, Manila, CA 95521
Get directions
(707) 444-1397

The Humboldt Coastal Nature Center is unique in our region. Its location makes it a public gateway to over 1,000 acres of coastal lands, and its facilities and programming make it the only center on California’s North Coast where people of all ages and abilities experience and learn about all the diverse habitats of the Humboldt Bay area. The Humboldt Coastal Nature Center’s exhibits, trails, and programs combine experiential education, conservation-minded recreational access, and hands-on restoration activities to increase public understanding of local coastal environments and to inspire community-driven stewardship of these fragile resources.

Photo by Ryan Filgas

TRAILS & MAPS

Photo by Ryan Filgas
 
 

HISTORY

The Humboldt Coastal Nature Center is an undertaking of Friends of the Dunes, a local not-for-profit that conserves the natural diversity of coastal environments through community-supported education and stewardship programs. Friends of the Dunes purchased the unique structure known locally as the “Stamps House” and the first 38 acres from the Stamps family in 2007. Now totaling 118 acres, the property bridges the gap between adjacent public tracts, linking coastal lands managed for resource conservation and public access.

 

Friends of the Dunes began renovation of the building into a public Nature Center in 2010, thanks to the support from the US Fish and Wildlife Service, the California State Coastal Conservancy, the Wildlife Conservation Board, and community donors. In July of 2011, the first phase of renovations was completed and the Nature Center building was opened to the public. The Nature Center is in the process of becoming LEED-certified and will include interpretive information on green building and design practices.

 

Known locally as "the Stamps House", this building was once the home of Charles and Rachel Stamps. The couple built the house in 1985 as a retirement home from an earth shelter kit. They enjoyed sharing the home and access to the beach with family and friends and wanted to be sure that the property and surrounding environments could be enjoyed for generations to come.

 

After Charles and Rachel passed away, members of the Stamps family contacted Friends of the Dunes to see if they were interested in the property. After months of negotiations, it was agreed that the Stamps family trust would sell a portion of the property, along with the house, to Friends of the Dunes to be developed into a nature center. The sale was completed in 2007 and the renovation began in 2010. The Stamps family retained 17 acres adjacent to Friends of the Dunes along with the two barns on the property. Family members continue to visit the property and hold family gatherings.

 

Photos show the Stamps House before renovation began. The east facing facade (below) can be seen from Hwy 255 and has a view of Humboldt Bay. The West facing facade has a view of the Pacific Ocean. Both photos show how the entire roof was covered in ice plant.

 

FACILITY RENTAL

Trails and restrooms are open during daylight hours. On a limited basis, Friends of the Dunes will make the Nature Center available for meetings, gatherings, and events. Please review the Rental Guidelines & Application Form.

 

The facility includes:

  • Living Roof planted with native dune plants.

  • Accessible parking

  • Public spaces for exhibits and programs focused on conserving coastal habitats

  • Public restrooms that incorporate green building features such as low-flow water fixtures, solar hot water, radiant heat, passive venting, natural lighting, and finishes made of recycled materials

  • New Nature Center that preserves the original structure’s architectural elements

 

Please contact us for more information and to reserve your rental.

 

Photo by Ryan Filgas

LOOKING AHEAD

The Nature Center continues to be a work in progress and its continued development depends on community support. Future plans for the site include the creation of a second floor that would allow for a resource library, interactive exhibit galleries, gift shop, renovated cupola, kitchen, and two ADA accessible trails. See the proposed plan below. 

 

FUTURE PLANS

 

BARR C.D.P.

Friends of the Dunes has submitted an application to the Humboldt County Planning Department for a Coastal Development Permit (CDP) to enhance trail access at the 3.6-acre former Barr property located on Lupin Avenue in Manila. Trail improvements are designed to minimize impacts to sensitive habitat while allowing for continued neighborhood access by hikers, equestrians, and dog walkers.

During the permit process, Friends of the Dunes will accept comments from the public regarding the application by emailing info@friendsofthedunes.org. While we may not be able to respond to every comment, we will consider comments that help improve the project in terms of resource protection and public access. As part of the CDP process, the county will schedule a public hearing where the public will be notified and able to provide comments about the project directly to the County.

BARR CDP UPDATE

& HOW YOU CAN HELP 

In March of 2017, Friends of the Dunes (FOD) submitted a Coastal Development Permit (CDP) amendment application to the County to open to the Barr property, the most recent addition to our land trust, to the public. After a long delay by the County, the application was brought to the October 4th meeting of the Planning Commission. During the hearing, an organized group of opponents, many of them long-time critics of Friends of the Dunes, spoke in opposition to the project. This led the Commission to table the project until neighbor's concerns were addressed. There was a lot of misinformation shared during public comment and later reported in the local press. We wanted to be sure our supporters have a clear understanding of the facts and next steps.

 

The Facts:

  • FOD is not involved in the purchase of the Dog Ranch property.

  • There are no plans to close off neighborhood access trails & no new parking is proposed.

  • In 2015-2016 we reached out to our neighbors to share our plans and hear their concerns. Unfortunately, there was a gap in community outreach after 2016 while FOD waited for the permit to be reviewed by the Planning Commission.

  • We have years of monitoring data documenting the success of restoration and the return of native plants. We were compliant with the language in our original CDP, but fell short on some of the goals written in the restoration plan, which was finalized after the original Coastal Development Permit was approved. We had initially viewed the restoration plan as an internal document, but recently came to understand that it is viewed as part of our CDP.

 

Our Plans:

  • The goal of opening this property to the public is to protect rare habitats and endangered species while providing well-managed coastal public access that minimizes impacts to sensitive species.

  • One intent of the project is to maintain the existing walk-in neighborhood use, while reducing impacts in sensitive areas. Our plan is to designate the most direct trail to the beach for equestrian and pedestrian use. The steep back dune trail through endangered species habitat will be designated for pedestrian use only and will connect to the Humboldt Coastal Nature Center’s Ridge Trail.

 

What's Next?

  • By moving forward with our plan to open up the Barr property, our existing CDP is being called into question by critics. We are working closely with County staff to ensure we are in full compliance and will take whatever steps necessary to ensure this moves forward. We are committed to reconnecting with our neighbors to better understand and address their concerns.

  • We will be working with County staff to do more environmental review and clearly identify any potential environmental impacts of the project. This will take time and will be labor intensive, but we are committed to doing what is best for the coastal dunes while providing public access that inspires our community to learn about and care for the coast.

  • We need your support. Stay informed, speak up about the good work we do, write letters to the planning commission and opinion pieces to local media. Please do not hesitate to call if you have questions, or need more information.

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