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Glass Beach is a beach in MacKerricher State Park near Fort Bragg, California that is abundant in sea glass created from years of dumping garbage into an area of coastline near the northern part of the town.
In the early 20th century, Fort Bragg residents threw their household garbage over cliffs owned by the Union Lumber Company onto what is now Glass Beach, discarding glass, appliances, and even vehicles. Locals referred to it as "The Dumps." Fires were lit to reduce the size of the trash pile.
The California State Water Resources Control Board and city leaders closed the area in 1967. Various cleanup programs were undertaken through the years to correct the damage. Over the next several decades the pounding waves cleaned the beach, by breaking down everything but glass and pottery and tumbling those into the small, smooth, colored pieces that cover Glass Beach.
There are three Glass Beach sites in Fort Bragg where trash was dumped into ocean between 1906 and 1967. Glass Beach Site Two and Three (1943-1949) are located at the end of the path that begins on the corner of Elm Street and Glass Beach Drive. These sites are accessible by foot and by a short climb down the cliffs surrounding the beach. Site One (1906-1943) is located south of Sites Two and Three and can only be accessed by water because there is no trespassing on the cliffs above the cove.
In 1998, the private owner of the property determined that Glass Beach should belong to the public, and began a five year process of working with the California Coastal Conservancy and the California Integrated Waste Management Board for the cleanup and sale of the property to the state. Following completion of the clean up, the California Department of Parks and Recreation purchased the 38-acre (15 ha) Glass Beach property, and it was incorporated into MacKerricher State Park in October 2002.
The beach is now frequently visited by tourists. Collecting is not permitted on the park's beach, although sea glass can be found on other local beaches outside the park boundary. A Glass Festival is held annually on Memorial Day weekend.
Thousands of tourists visit Fort Bragg's glass beaches each day in the summer. Most collect some glass. Because of this and also because of natural factors (wave action is constantly grinding down the glass), the glass is slowly diminishing. There is currently a move to replenish the beaches with discarded glass.
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