The Humboldt Coastal Nature Center is now open, Wednesday-Sunday 10 am - 4 pm.
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.
Click the image below to download a PDF of the HCNC Trail Map.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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 firstname.lastname@example.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 another Planning Commission meeting where the public will be notified and able to provide comments about the project directly to the County.
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 up the Barr property, the most recent addition to our land trust, to the public. The application was brought to the October 4, 2018 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 neighbors' concerns were addressed. Friends of the Dunes conducted direct outreach to neighbors throughout 2019, including hosting a public meeting in conjunction with the Humboldt County Planning Department on July 16, 2019 at the Humboldt Coastal Nature Center. Taking neighbors' concerns into account, we have modified our Coastal Development Permit amendment application with Humboldt County and updated our Restoration Management Plan for the entire Humboldt Coastal Nature Center property. We want to be sure the community has a clear understanding of the facts and next steps.
There are no plans to close off neighborhood access trails, and 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 during 2017 and 2018 while FOD waited for the permit application to be reviewed. We renewed our community outreach efforts in 2019, and listened to neighbors in order to modify the current CDP amendment. We continue to wait for the Humboldt County Planning Commission to schedule our project for one of their regular meetings, in order to finally advance this permit amendment.
We have years of monitoring data documenting the success of restoration and the return of native plants. We are compliant with the terms of our original CDP. We have now updated our Restoration and Management Plan for the Humboldt Coastal Nature Center property, to include the Barr Parcel and all mitigation measures to avoid adverse impacts to wetlands and sensitive species. We continue to submit timely Restoration Monitoring Reports to Humboldt County on an annual basis, per the terms of our CDP and as prescribed in our Restoration and Management Plan. These annual monitoring reports, and any visit to our property (our trails are open to the public 365 days a year) clearly demonstrate the return of native plants and native habitat subsequent to the hand removal of non-native plant species. There is no use of herbicide on our property, and no heavy equipment used to manage non-native, invasive species. All work is done by hand, either by trained staff or by trained community volunteers under the supervision of our Restoration Manager. We appreciate the community's support of this long-term habitat restoration project.
The goal of opening the Barr Parcel to the public is to protect rare habitats and endangered species while providing 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.
While moving forward with our plan to open up the Barr property, questions were raised about our existing CDP. We continue to work closely with County staff to ensure we are in full compliance and will take whatever steps necessary to ensure this moves forward. We have reconnected with our neighbors to better understand and address their concerns, and we have modified our proposed approach based on these neighborhood concerns.
We have worked with County staff to do more environmental review and clearly identify any potential environmental impacts of the project. This process takes time. 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, join our Dune Ecosystem Restoration Team to learn about and assist in habitat restoration, and please plan to lend your voice when our CDP permit amendment finally comes before the Humboldt County Planning Commission again. Please do not hesitate to call if you have questions, or need more information.
HUMBOLDT COASTAL NATURE CENTER
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.