The Rock at Shelter Cove

I received the following email message and two attachments from friend Bill Hoopes in Northern California. If Bill is gravely concerned, then something certainly is amiss. Please take the time to read and act upon the following. Time is of the essence:


Dear surfers and friends, please take a look at the two attached
letters. One is my general directions to you and the other is a copy of
the letter I intend to send. Be heard. I believe the wave at the Cove
is threatened by a proposed expansion of the breakwater. Take the time
to write your own letters or at the least drop by the local surf shops
to sign a petition before the 28th of April. Bill Hoopes


April 12, 2005
Dear Surfers and Friends,

I believe the wave at the Rock at Shelter Cove is in danger of being affected by a proposed expansion of the existing breakwater. I am not opposed to shoring up the existing structure, but the dishonesty throughout this permitting process upsets me. I am asking you to write a letter, have your spouses write letters, and have your children write letters. My purpose is to halt this project until we know for sure what effects might happen to the Rock wave should the breakwater be expanded. There is a large report called “Initial Environmental Study for the Shelter Cove Breakwater Rehabilitation Project.” It is available from the Humboldt Bay Harbor, Recreation, and Conservation District, P.O. Box 1030, Eureka CA 95502-1030, 707-443-0801. We are also having some CD copies of the report burned if you are interested. Contact me.

I have been advised that any letter should follow this format if we hope to be heard:
1. Keep it one page in length; it might be read then.
2. Make it as personal as you can; that is, your experiences at the Rock and the Cove are vital for those who care not for its nature and preserving what is still a magical spot.
3. Highlight the lack of public notification and chance for comment.
4. Highlight the historical nature of the spot to the surfing community.
5. Ask for more time to review the project and then do so after your letter has been written.

I also ask that you send all letters to me so that I can hand deliver them before April 29th, the deadline for comment on the proposal. This strategy of taking them in late in the month, in one packet, may limit someone’s mounting a counter letter campaign. However, if you wish to send a letter on your own, then please make sure it is delivered close to but not after April 29th, 2005.

Time is of the essence. Write a letter now. Please. Attached is my own letter to let you see the direction I have taken. If we do nothing, we may end up saying, “Gosh, remember the fun little wave at the Rock?”

Bill Hoopes
1826 16th Street
Eureka CA 95501


Dear Mr. Hull,

As a life-long resident of Humboldt County, an ocean fisherman, an abalone diver, a college professor, a business owner, a taxpayer, and a surfer, I am very distressed at the proposed increase of the breakwater at Shelter Cove.
I rode my first wave at The Rock in 1964 with friends from Eureka and Garberville (where I grew up). My dentist, Dr. John H. “Doc” Ball, also surfed with me and my friends, Doc preferring The Rock because it was gentle on an older surfer. On Wednesdays he would shut the dental practice and head to the Cove. When I was lucky, I went with Doc. I preferred The Rock because it was a true learner’s wave. My two eldest sons rode their first waves there, and a cherished picture has my boys on a wave with old dad: what a special memory. To the north, the next beginner’s wave is Moonstone beach; to the south…well, you have to travel a long way to find a wave as accommodating. As I get older, the Rock will be my refuge to still catch a wave, that is, unless it becomes ruined by the proposed expansion of the breakwater.

I also taught my children to find abalone and clams beyond the breakwater, and they played in the same spot that will become a mound of rock if the project extends beyond the original breakwater. If the project is extended, the abs remaining (there are many) will be covered; all those memories will lie buried in rubble.
Simply stated, this spot is historical in nature in the surfing history of the North Coast, in particular, and California, in general.

Equally troubling are the claims that sufficient public input has occurred. One meeting was held on short notice in Shelter Cove last year and one in 1999, I believe, yet the document claims the Cove is of local and regional importance. Why then have no local hearings in Eureka, Garberville, Fortuna, or Arcata been held? Are these towns not in the region? Is the Cove not special to those in the northern part of the County? Do we not deserve to voice our concerns? Or is this project for a select few at the Cove with large boats and larger pocketbooks? As a taxpayer, I am also wondering why an extra $600,000 needs to be spent when there will be no more parking added and no more room to remove boats at high tide (except for those launched by concession tractors).

I can tell you the original rocks that were moved from the middle of the Cove destroyed the break from which they were removed. I have film of the wave that existed there, and today it is nothing like it used to be. I believe the changes in the breakwater configuration may well negatively affect the Rock in a similar way. Dredging will also cause more sand to move around than normal and very possibly impact The Rock.

More time is needed to study the impacts. Other wave experts need to see the plans and assure me and my family that no impacts will occur on the Rock. Repairing the existing breakwater seems to me to be the best alternative because the damage has been done already. We do not need more damage on the habitat of abalone and clams. We dare not gamble with losing a precious surf break.


Bill Hoopes
1826 16th Street
Eureka CA 95501


Anonymous Anonymous said...

It is good to see that other people are concerned with disturbing the natural breaks that our California coastline affords us with the expansion of humanity.

A similar problem arose several years ago in both Crescent City in Del Norte County California and Brookings/Harbor in Curry County Oregon.

Each year the Noll Surf Classic in Crescent City which brings hundreds of riders, to what in recent years has turned out to be flat line. Read about the Classic at:


When some local surfers tried to get the harbor district to add some additional Tripods to the south side of the jetty to increase and stablize the existing wave pattern they were laughed out of the meetings.

You'd think they would have loved the added tourist revenue an even better surf would have brought.

May 24, 2005  

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