Where the Russian River meets the Pacific Ocean, the Jenner Headlands make up 5,630 acres of biologically diverse coastal prairie and forest on the scenic Sonoma Coast. The headlands overlook the ocean and are a complex mosaic of natural habitats. The area is home to many fish and wildlife species, including ten species of special concern – those that are endangered, threatened or rare.
The Gordon and Betty Moore Foundation has supported the acquisition and stewardship of the Jenner Headlands since 2009. Working with partners, the foundation aimed to preserve and maintain the redwood forest, coastal prairie, streams and wildlife habitats that comprise the vast acreage of the Jenner Headlands Preserve.
The Sonoma coast is also recognized throughout the world as a place of abundant recreational opportunities and diverse natural resources, and it’s important that the public is able to enjoy the natural beauty of the Northern California coast. With over 17 miles of accessible coastline along this section of the Sonoma coast, more than three million people from around the world visit the 13,000-acre Sonoma coast state park every year. The foundation’s commitment to the Jenner Headlands aims to provide more opportunities for access to coastal resources, while taking care to balance ecological needs with low impact public access.
Development of the Gateway to the Jenner Headlands
Upon acquisition of the preserve in 2009, The Wildlands Conservancy and the Sonoma Land Trust partnered with Sonoma County Regional Parks to conduct an access study that evaluated all potential public access points to the preserve. Based on the results of this study, the Gateway to the Jenner Headlands Preserve site was identified as the primary access point for public recreation. Visitors to the Sonoma coast now have the opportunity to explore this spectacular 5,630-acre nature preserve, free of charge.
Once a management plan was finalized, The Wildlands Conservancy began the arduous task of designing and creating a public access space that not only provided safe access for visitors, but also blended in to the natural landscape. Working with landscape architects and engineers as well as partners including Sonoma Land Trust and Ag + Open Space, they were able to create a functional and visually appealing space.
The new space, opened in 2018, provides public access to the area including a trailhead which invites visitors to explore 14 miles of trails and stunning scenery. The Gateway to the Jenner Headlands represents years of hard work aimed at balancing design and management with restoration and preservation.
The Sonoma Coast and Jenner Headlands are a beautiful representation of the special character of the Bay Area, and we are heartened to see the hard work of our partners come to fruition.