Bridge Will Honor Late State Parks Superintendent
Community members, parks staff, and elected officials will gather in Bodega Bay on Friday, Aug. 19, to dedicate the newest segment of the Bodega Bay Pedestrian & Bicycle Trail and to name a trail bridge in honor of Elizabeth “Liz” Burko, the late State Parks superintendent who oversaw the Sonoma Coast.
The public is invited to explore the .55-mile trail by joining a 10 a.m. bird walk led by Stewards of the Coast and Redwoods. The dedication will follow at 11 a.m. and will feature remarks by U.S. Reps. Jared Huffman and Mike Thompson, State Senator Mike McGuire, Sonoma County Supervisor Efren Carrillo, Regional Parks Director Caryl Hart, California State Parks Director Lisa Mangat, and Burko’s family.
The new trail adds to the ongoing California Coastal Trail network and connects the Bodega Bay Dunes campground at Sonoma Coast State Park to Keefe Avenue, improving pedestrian and bicycle access to the Salmon Creek neighborhood and south Salmon Creek Beach. The trail segment features an 8-foot-wide aggregate surface and a 120-foot-long bridge over an annual creek. That bridge will be known as the Liz Burko Bridge. Construction was funded by the National Park Service, Metropolitan Transportation Commission, Sonoma County Transportation Authority and Sonoma County Regional Parks.
“On this special day we are not only celebrating increased coastal access for the public, we are here to honor our dear friend and colleague, Liz Burko,” said Sonoma County Regional Parks Director Caryl Hart. “Liz dedicated her life to parks, and she bridged relationships between agencies in order to increase opportunities for people to enjoy them.”
Burko was a Bodega Bay resident who managed California State Parks’ Sonoma-Mendocino District for the last eight years of her career. She passed away unexpectedly in August 2015 following a vehicle accident. Known by many as the quintessential ranger who loved people and parks, Burko was highly regarded for her leadership, including her ability to overcome complex challenges and to mentor staff.
The new trail segment connects to a .47-mile trail linking Bodega Dunes campground to the Bodega Bay Community Center and Children’s Bell Tower. That trail was completed in late 2014 and dedicated by Burko and many of the officials who will attend the Aug. 19 ceremony. Together, the two trail segments are referred to as the Coastal Prairie Trail.
“It’s so fitting that we honor Liz’s legacy with the extension of the Coastal Prairie Trail,” said Fifth District Supervisor Efren Carrillo. “The trail is crucial to our larger mission of connecting people to the beauty and wonder of the Sonoma Coast. Liz was devoted to that mission, and we miss her dearly.”
The Coastal Prairie Trail is part of the larger Bodega Bay Bike & Pedestrian Trail project, which will give residents and tourists a safe and scenic alternative for traveling Highway 1 between Salmon Creek and Doran Beach. The project will include 3.4 miles of bike and pedestrian pathway and a boardwalk with access to shops and restaurants along Bodega Harbor. The next segment to be constructed will link the Coastal Prairie Trail to Bay Flat Road. Design and engineering studies are underway, and construction will begin as funding becomes available.
The first Bodega Bay Trail section to be completed was the Cheney Creek crossing, which linked Doran Beach to Birdwalk Coastal Access Trail in 2008.
The Bodega Bay Trail project is part of the larger California Coastal Trail, a planned trail to run along the state’s 1,200-mile coastline.