Concerned About Guerneville’s River Access at Johnson’s Beach

Saturday June 13, 2015 Guerneville CA.

Today, being Saturday, I decided to stay home and do some yard work that needed done. I needed to finish my weed mowing for the year for fire protection and I had some watering to do and some dirt to move among other things.

Guerneville River access is being restricted

As I was reading my email this morning there was one in there from Ray, the guy that kayaks and hikes with me at Jenner. He’s a long time local resident and he was concerned about what’s going on at Johnson’s beach, the local beach at Guerneville. Being from the river and using it a lot to kayak, I’m also concerned about this access thing too.

As it is, I’m amazed Guerneville has a locked gate on it’s river access. For the main town on the lower river, I’ve always thought there is something wrong with this locked gate business, as the river is considered more or less a highway and is supposed to be accessible to the public and not restricted. It’s sorta like putting locked gates on the on ramps of freeways and locking them up at night or whenever someone wants to keep the lock locked, not a good situation.

Fact is, I’d kayak the river at Guerneville more, but because of the locked gate, I go down to Monte Rio and Jenner where there aren’t any locked gates and I can come and go as I wish, as it should be.

River laws

Laws governing the use of rivers in the United States go back to the beginnings of the United States.

Here’s a website that tells it like it is. The real problem today is most people don’t understand these old laws and think they can restrict river access.

Anyway, Ray and his wife Elaine wrote this letter to the local newspaper and also sent a copy to the county parks which somewhat also controls access at this point where the Guerneville dam is located.

I’m including the newspapers address and the parks address if anyone else wishes to respond to this important matter.

Their email to the paper

Subject: Johnson’s Beach — River Access unavailable!

Dear Mary:

You wrote an article about the change of ownership of Johnson’s Beach in Guerneville (March 12, 2015 – “Johnson’s Beach resort changes hands”). The article emphasized that the new owners intended to continue running the resort and beach in much the same way as the Harris family has done for the past 48 years: “New owners Nick Moore and Dan Poirier, a San Francisco couple, said that aside from a few cosmetic upgrades and 21st-century touches, they mostly intend to keep the place just as it has been.”  In the article you quote the owners stating: “But really, it’s about keeping it the same,” Poirier said. “We want to keep it affordable. We want to keep it very Americana, so it’s building on what (the Harris family) created.” In fact, the article portrayed the new owners as totally committed to honoring the tradition of Johnson’s Beach as the focal point of the community in the summer months.

You might be dismayed, as we are, to discover that access to Johnson’s Beach parking lot and boat ramp has been locked and closed every week day so far this summer – even though traditionally Clare Harris and his family would open the beach in mid-May and keep it open every single day of the summer until after Labor Day. We have heard that the new owners only plan to open the parking lot and snack bar on the weekends, despite their claim that they were “open to the public” on May 16. This past week – when the thermometer soared into the 90’s – access to the beach, boat ramp, and parking lot was not available to the residents and visitors in our community.

We are very concerned and feel that – despite their words – the new owners actually have no intention of honoring the 100 year tradition of keeping Johnson’s Beach open and free to public access throughout the summer. As your article states, “Admission and parking are free. Visitors pay only for food, refreshments and rental equipment.” We urge you  to follow up with the owners and investigate whether their statements were just for your benefit to write a “feel good” story. Because clearly, they are not living up to their words.

We are very concerned about the loss of access to the water because of the locked gates and the posted signs that now say “private property.” This is not the way the Harris family ran the resort. They welcomed everyone, and we were able to park at the beach or drive our vehicles up the boat ramp to launch our kayaks, canoes, and boats. With the gates locked throughout the week, we now have no access to our beloved Russian River in the heart of Guerneville.

We ask that you follow up on this, and write an article that reflects the truth of how the new owners plan to run Johnson’ Beach resort.


Elaine Sundberg and Ray Sundberg

That’s the email they wrote and I’d just like to say thank you for speaking up and doing something about it.

Yard work

Back to the yard work. Right at the end of the day, just before dark, I got some energy and started digging up this spot. I digging up and moving the nice dirt to the backyard and will fill this is with the pile of rock to the rock to enlarge the driveway a bit in this spot. I have several small stumps to dig out in there before I’m done so I still have some work to do. I was able to move seven wheel barrel loads of dirt to a  spot that needed it in the backyard.


Here’s the spot I’m digging up to enlarge the driveway a bit. I’m digging up in front of the wheel barrel, although it might not look like it. I need to dig down about six inches and put rock back in.diggingdirt


Lucky it got dark on me and I had to stop for the day and that was my day.

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