Santa Rosa, CA – June 17, 2020 – Due to impacts of the Covid-19 health emergency and projections for reduced river flows, Sonoma County Regional Parks will not install the summer dam on the Russian River at Healdsburg Veterans Memorial Beach.
The decision not to install the dam in 2020 was made in consultation with Sonoma Water, Sonoma County’s health officer and the city of Healdsburg.
To preserve water storage in Lake Mendocino and to support fish habitat later in the season, water managers expect river flow rates to be about two-thirds below normal, too low to meet preferred environmental conditions for dam installation. In addition, the dam’s installation is a physically intense project that does not allow for social distancing among work crews.
In most summers, the county installs a temporary dam at the beach, just downstream from Healdsburg’s Memorial Bridge, creating a lifeguarded swimming area from late June through early September. Due to the health emergency, Regional Parks does not have the seasonal staff to fully lifeguard the beach and to enforce new social distancing and hygiene requirements.
The beach will remain open without the dam, with river conditions suitable for wading and more shoreline for visitors to spread out for sunbathing and picnicking. Roving lifeguard patrols will visit this and other Regional Parks on the river beginning in July.
Healdsburg Veterans Memorial Beach is at 13839 Old Redwood Highway and is open from 8 a.m. to sunset. Admission is free. Parking is $7 or free with a Regional Parks membership.
Sonoma County Regional Parks is developing an updated master plan for the park, and the community is invited to offer feedback on potential improvements, including enhanced river access and family friendly amenities. The next public meeting is expected later this year. Those interested in participating can sign up to receive notices of meeting dates and other project news.