It is hard to imagine this happening today, but back in 1906 when Fort Bragg’s streets were filled with rubble from devastation caused by the San Francisco Earthquake, using the ocean as a dump made perfect sense. Seaside towns around the world have done it for centuries. However, it was finally in 1967, the North Coast Water Quality Board realized the mistake, the impact on water quality and plans were begun for a new dump away from the ocean.
If the sea glass is actually trash — from broken bottles and car tail lights, isn’t it free for the taking? Yes and no. Outside the state park, yes. Inside, no.
Frequently Asked Questions
1. May I take the sea glass from Glass Beach? As we mention above, Glass Beach is now part of MacKerricher State Park. Tim Quandt, supervising ranger for MacKerricher and other Mendocino Area State Parks, told us this when we asked about taking glass: “The truth of the matter is that it is a misdemeanor to remove any artifacts from State Park property. Park rangers have not begun citing offenders…yet, but that day will eventually arrive.
“Rangers are currently working to educate and inform the public and we confiscate and return collected sea glass to the beach whenever possible. Signage has now been placed on the property to inform visitors of the protected status of the resource and educational and interpretive panels/displays will eventually be placed as well.
“The reason that Glass Beach has become the least desirable sea glass collecting location is because it has been commercially over-harvested over the years and now the resource has been depleted.
“This is unfortunate, but this is why State Parks has a mission to protect natural, cultural and historical resources…so that they can continue to be present for future generations to enjoy.”
2. Is there any glass left? Yes, plenty. The churning ocean is constantly depositing sea glass on Glass Beach. It a fun place to explore, pick up the glass, look for different colors and just enjoy the area without taking it home.
3. Where can I find samples of the many kinds of glass found over the years at the many glass beaches along Fort Bragg’s coast? The Sea Glass Museum, which is free admission, has beautiful display cases of every color and size of glass to be found on our glass beaches. The museum is located on Highway, just south of Fort Bragg.