U.S. DEPARTMENT OF THE INTERIORBUREAU OF LAND MANAGEMENT
BLM, Coast Guard and Community Celebrate Transfer of Trinidad Lighthouse
Perched on a cliff 190 feet above the Pacific, with a dramatic backdrop of rocks and islands, the Trinidad Lighthouse has been an important navigational beacon for mariners off the rocky northern California coast for more than a century. Because it's hidden from mainland view on the edge of Trinidad Head and trail access has been restricted, the lighthouse has not been well known to the public, as are many Pacific Coast lighthouses.
All that changed on May 16, with a community celebration marking the transfer of ownership from the U. S. Coast Guard to the Bureau of Land Management.
“We are here to celebrate this day and this place,” said Trinidad Mayor Julie Fulkerson. “It’s about people coming together to do something that is so important, to protect this piece of land and the heritage and the culture and spiritual values that are represented here.”
Jim Kenna, the BLM California State Director, received the "keys" to the lighthouse from Coast Guard Chief Warrant Officer Curtis Barthel.
“Mr. Barthel, the Bureau of Land Management stands ready to relieve the Coast Guard of its duties and responsibilities as the lighthouse keepers at Trinidad Head Lighthouse,” Kenna said.
“Mr. Kenna, the Coast Guard is confident in your abilities as light keepers and stands relieved
as light keepers of Trinidad Head Lighthouse. Congratulations,” Barthel responded.
Barthel said the Coast Guard, based on available resources and mission, had provided very limited public access to the lighthouse.
"We'll still have access. But now, so many people will get to see it. It's a big win for the Coast Guard," he said.
Local community partners joined the celebration including Humboldt County 5th District Supervisor Ryan Sundberg, Representative for Congressman Jared Huffman Lindsey Righter, Trinidad Rancheria Chairman Garth Sundberg, students from the Trinidad Union School District and the Museum Society President Patti Fleschner.
Yurok Tribe Chairman Thomas P. O'Rourke Sr. spoke about the spiritual importance of Trinidad Head to the Yurok people, who have lived in the region for centuries. In fact, the village of Tsurai — which the Yurok occupied along Trinidad Bay for at least a thousand years, making it one of the oldest known on the Pacific coast — endured the same historic storm that thrashed the lighthouse in 1914.
The Trinidad Lighthouse site was withdrawn from public use and set aside for lighthouse operations in presidential executive orders in 1866 and 1908.
The BLM and community partners will be developing plans for periodic guided walks to the lighthouse, which will continue in service as an aid to navigation. The scenic trail offers outstanding views of Trinidad Harbor and the rocks and islands of the BLM's California Coastal National Monument. For the first event, the BLM will have tours of the lighthouse during the Trinidad Fish Festival on June 15, according to Lynda Roush, Arcata Field Manager.
“The Bureau of Land Management will now write the next chapter of the lighthouse’s history as a picturesque landmark and public resource for years to come, with the help of many community partners,” said Ms. Righter on behalf of Congressman Huffman.
“Thank you for inviting us to be a part of your community,” Kenna said. “This is a place of beauty and a place with thousands of years of history. We want to engage youth and continue to share for many generations to come.”
-- Public Affairs Program, BLM California (May 2014)
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