Seashore closes Drakes Beach for parking lot overhaul


Drakes Beach will be closed from May 1 to Aug. 31 while construction crews reconfigure the parking lot and restore a wetland. The work is part of the Point Reyes National Seashore’s two-year road improvement project, which is over 70 percent complete. About half of the two-acre parking lot will be removed, and the remaining area will be reconfigured with 314 spaces, down from 399. Three metal culverts will be taken out and surrounding upland areas will be excavated to create a two-acre wetland with mostly freshwater and some tidal influence on the south side of the lot. The restoration aims to return natural hydrologic function that existed before the parking lot was built in the 1960s, park spokeswoman Christine Beekman said. The mitigation work is required because construction on Sir Francis Drake Boulevard is expected to negatively impact aquatic breeding habitat, particularly at the stretch of road that was perpetually flooded and inhabited by California red-legged frogs. Two ponds are also being built on the Home Ranch. The work at Drakes Beach costs $4.7 million, paid mostly by the Federal Highways Administration. Already, Sir Francis Drake Boulevard has been rebuilt with a smooth surface, and reconstruction of the South Beach parking lot is underway. Surface treatment of roads throughout the park is scheduled to begin later this spring, and the replacement of the bridge over Schooner Creek resumes in July. The entire project is on track for completion in October, said Doug Hecox, a spokesman for the Federal Highways Administration.