Environmentalists and county employees are pointing fingers at each other after a plan long in the works to build a new bridge at Gaviota State Park was denied by the California Coastal Commission. The proposal called for a $6-million, 250-foot concrete bridge and approximately 750 feet of raised road at the often washed-out entrance to the state park, which also provides access to the Hollister Ranch. Eager to use funds the State Office of Emergency Services and Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) pledged to the project, the county approved the bridge earlier this year despite objections from the Gaviota Coast Conservancy, state park officials, and the Hollister Ranch Homeowners Association, all of whom felt that the bridge – though much needed – would negatively impact the nearby creek and surrounding marshland. It remains to be seen whether a new incarnation of the bridge will be boosted by FEMA and state money, as the current grants expire in August 2007.

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