It can be smoking hot at the Whiskeytown National Recreation Area beaches during the summertime. But when the next beach season arrives, there may not be any actual smoking.
National Park Service officials are considering banning smoking at Whiskeytown’s four recreation beaches: Brandy Creek, East Beach, Oak Bottom, and Whiskey Creek Group Picnic Beach. Smoking would continue to be permitted everywhere else in the park.
“We have really nice beaches here. You don’t have anything like it at Shasta,” said Whiskeytown Superintendent Jim Milestone. “What we’re shooting for is a premiere park experience, a premiere beach experience.”
The Shasta County Tobacco Education Coalition approached the park service with the idea of prohibiting smoking at the beaches last year. The coalition conducted a survey in which it found broad support for the ban. About two-thirds of 390 survey respondents said they supported a ban, and about one-third said they would visit the beaches more often if a no-smoking policy were in place.
The coalition and the park service have worked together on a proposed policy that would ban smoking on the sandy beaches, but would still permit smoking in adjacent picnic areas and parking lots. That way, people who spend all day at the beach would not be exposed to second-hand smoke, but parents who light up would be close enough to the beach and water to keep watch over their kids.
The park service is accepting public comment on the proposed policy through March 24. Comments should be directed to Milestone at Jim_Milestone@nps.gov. The park service will likely make a decision in April.
“People are sending me letters and, mostly, emails,” Milestone said. “We’re collecting all those. The overwhelming response to date is in favor of implementing the ban.”
Opposition has come from people complaining about government control and a loss of rights. That’s an argument that resonates with me most of the time. But the issue here is the health and comfort – the rights – of nonsmokers, especially children. Second-hand smoke is bad for children, and no one wants their kids playing with discarded butts.
Nathan Read, coordinator of Shasta County’s Tobacco Education Program, said smoking is not compatible with outdoor recreation. He noted that the trail systems operated by the City of Redding and the McConnell Foundation are already smoke-free.
“There’s this expectation when you’re outside and doing something that’s healthy, you won’t be exposed to something that is unhealthy for you,” Read said.
The park service, Milestone recalled, banned alcohol on the beaches more than 20 years ago. Almost immediately, the number of arrests decreased by two-thirds, according to Milestone. The beach alcohol restriction “had a dramatic effect on visitors. It made the beach scene quiet down quite a bit.”
Nowadays, the beaches are more popular than ever, with children and women composing the vast majority of users. The public’s favorite beach, at Brandy Creek, gets 350,000 visitors in a season that lasts only about four months.
• Want to try snowshoeing but don’t really know what you’re doing? Then consider a ranger-led snowshoe outing this Saturday, March 13, at Lassen Volcanic National Park. The 90- to 120-minute programs will include snowshoeing instruction, tips on outdoor survival in winter, and an interpretive trek through a corner of the park. The park service will lend snowshoes for a $1 donation. You must be at least 8 years old, and, obviously, you need to be dressed for cold, wet weather. Programs are scheduled for 10:30 a.m. and 1:30 p.m. at the Loomis Ranger Station on the main park road, two miles from the Highway 44 entrance. For details, call the visitor center at (530) 595-4480.
• Patriot and Liberty are going to be parents again, and school children may help name the new kids. Patriot and Liberty, of course, are the bald eagle pair that nests in a cottonwood tree at Turtle Bay. Over the course of a week in February, three eggs appeared in their nest. The youngsters are expected to hatch about March 25 to 28. Two years ago, the pair had eaglets named Freedom and Conehead. Last year’s offspring were named Freedom, Hope and Spirit. Caltrans, which maintains the Eagle Cam, is asking schools and classrooms to suggest names for the three eaglets. After gathering names, Caltrans will put together an online survey to choose the top three. Teachers and school administrators should submit names by Wednesday, March 17, to Denise Yergenson at Caltrans, firstname.lastname@example.org.
• Does your home have “DIY flair”? If so, organizers of the annual HomeHop (formerly called the Cottage Tour) may want to have a look. Organizers of the event, which benefits Shasta Women’s Refuge, are seeking homes to feature on the annual tour. The deadline to apply is Monday, March 15. HomeHop is scheduled for April 25. Direct your questions and submissions to Monica Templeton at 515-1315.
Paul Shigley is senior editor of California Planning & Development Report, a frequent contributor to Planning magazine and co-author of Guide to California Planning, a reference book and college text. He lives in Centerville. Paul Shigley can be reached at email@example.com.