The Big Sur Land Trust has announced a gift of seventy-nine acres from the Clint and Maggie Eastwood Trusts to the Carmel River Floodplain Restoration and Environmental Enhancement Project.
The project, also known as Carmel River FREE, is working to restore the natural functioning of the lower Carmel River's historic floodplain, with the linked goals of reducing flood-related problems, enhancing riparian habitats, and providing new trails that connect state- and regionally-owned open spaces. Coupled with a 1997 gift of a forty-nine-acre parcel — a donation that eliminated a proposed housing development that would have been compromised by its location in the floodplain — the gift will advance the project and further cement the Eastwoods' legacy as protectors of open space in the region.
Components of the River FREE project include new flood channels, the restoration of a hundred acres of habitat and creation of a 23-acre agricultural preserve; and construction of a new causeway and bridge that would replace a section of Highway One, allowing floodwaters to flow under it. To date, BSLT has raised $14 million of the $25 million needed to cover the costs of the causeway and restoration project. The Carmel River FREE Stewardship Fund at the Community Foundation for Monterey County has set a fundraising goal of $2 million to cover the estimated $100,000 annual stewardship costs.
"To see the restoration, the flood plain improvements, the benefits to the community and the environment all coming together is truly satisfying," said actor, director, and former Carmel mayor Clint Eastwood. "We’ve been working on this project with the Big Sur Land Trust and other agencies for quite some time."