Diablo Canyon Power Plant’s Point Buchon Trail
Diablo Canyon Power Plant’s Point Buchon Trail | San Luis Obispo County, CA
2009 Central Coast Section APACA Planning Award for the Category of Outstanding Planning Awards—Planning Project Award
The Point Buchon Trail extends more than three miles south of Montana de Oro State Park in San Luis Obispo County along property owned by the Pacific Gas and Electric Company (PG&E). Developing and maintaining the Point Buchon Trail was required as one of the conditions for obtaining a Coastal Development Permit for construction of the Independent Spent Fuel Storage Installation Facility at the Diablo Canyon Nuclear Power Plant.
The trail was developed through a collaborative process involving a task force comprised of environmental professionals, local and state agency representatives, and members of local academic institutions. LSA was a member of this task force. The task force reviewed comprehensive environmental baseline data to gain an understanding of the area’s significant ecological, geological, and cultural resources. Then LSA plotted these resources on GIS-based maps and derived a preferred trail alignment based on the simultaneous need to construct a trail optimizing user experience while avoiding impacts to sensitive resources. The trail was designed to minimize the use of “built” features. LSA then worked with PG&E staff and the California Conservation Corps to develop the trail and any necessary infrastructure, such as a trail signage.
The Point Buchon Trail was implemented in approximate on-mile segments/phases, allowing ongoing monitoring of resource impact during the initial phases. This phases, adaptive management approach allowed PG&E to consider differently alignments and operational approaches for subsequent segments in order to provide additional resource protection if necessary.
Closed to the public for nearly 150 years, the northern reaches of PG&E’s Diablo Canyon Power Plant land now has a trail that provides users with a variety of experiences including a sandy beach; continual bluff top viewing; significant geologic sinkhole; sea caves and tide pools; a working, sustainable livestock operation; numerous Central Coast flora and fauna species; and elevated panoramic views that allow glimpses of migrating whales, porpoises, sea otters, sea lions and a wide variety of sea birds.
The Point Buchon Trail operates under a managed access program that allows a maximum of 275 people on the trail per day. Hikers can either take advantage of an online reservation system, or show up at the gate to sign in, providing that there is availability.