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Healdsburg Beach Visioning - Background

Healdsburg Veterans Memorial Beach - people enjoying the beach-500

Project Funding

The Master Plan project is funded with contributions from the City of Healdsburg, the Sonoma County Advertising Fund, Park Mitigation Fees, and Restricted Donations.


Historic Information

Healdsburg Veteran’s Memorial Beach (HVMB) has been used by visitors and residents for community events and access to the Russian River for over a century. The historic bridge along the northeast corner of the property is near the location where settlers created a ford crossing in the 1850’s to navigate across the river during low flow periods. The bridge was originally built in 1921 and is listed on the National Register of Historic Places and forms the backdrop for views from the facility. The bridge has recently been renovated to meet seismic standards and restore many of the original features. 

As early as 1905, log and earthen dams were constructed at this location on the Russian River to create a swimming and boating area for the general Old photo of water carnival at Healdsburg Veterans Memorial Beach with bridge in background and 9 women rowing barrels-170public. The dams evolved over time to the construction of a summer dam by the County in 1955 using post World War 2 funds budgeted for the construction of Veteran’s buildings and facilities. In 1957 the California State Water Rights Board issued a water rights license to the County of Sonoma to install the dam and impound water for recreational uses along the Russian River.


The dam has gone through several renovations over the years, including the construction of a fish ladder by the Sonoma County Water Agency to provide fish passage during the months the dam is in place. Regulatory issues surrounding the dam and fish ladder continue to be a part of the annual installation of the dam and the operation and maintenance of the facility. However, resolving engineering and environmental conditions directly related to the dam and fish ladder is not part of this master plan process.
Boat races at Memorial Beach - no date-185
Regulatory requirements and current conditions will need to be identified in the master plan, the environmental document, and resource management plan, but regulatory agencies, through the permit process, will continue to update and place conditions on the installation of the dam and the beach grading. While the dam and fish ladder are not part of this specific Master Plan process, portage around the dam and fish ladder for kayaks, canoes, small boats, and other flotation devices will need to be identified and evaluated as part of the master plan, environmental document, and resource management plan.

There are 5 parcels, totaling approximately 11.53 acres, that were acquired by the County over a period of years between 1948 and 1964 to create the park. Two of the parcels extend into the Russian River which impacts the usable land base, especially when the dam is installed. The majority of the upland area is above the 100 year flood plain.