Sonoma County Regional Parks is regulating alcohol possession and commercial bus access at the beaches of two parks on the Russian River this summer.
Between the Memorial Day and Labor Day weekends, the possession of alcohol is prohibited daily at Steelhead and Sunset beaches, both on River Road in Forestville.
Visitors will have to return unopened containers of alcohol to their cars or leave the beach, and visitors with open containers of alcohol will have to pour out the contents. Violators face misdemeanor citations, court appearances and fines.
Commercial bus operators will need advance reservations before dropping off or picking up weekend passengers at the two beaches. The Regional Parks department will issue two bus reservations each Saturday, Sunday and holiday through the summer. Commercial buses without reservations will not be allowed in the parks.
Bay Area bus operators are aware of the reservation program. The bus reservation fee is $100 per day and is on a first-come, first-served basis. Reservations may be made by calling the Regional Parks main office at (707) 565-2041 between 8 a.m. and 5 p.m. Monday through Friday or emailing firstname.lastname@example.org. Requests can take three business days to process.
The restrictions are in response to a significant increase in the use of the parks recently and complaints about intoxication, underage drinking, traffic congestion, parking violations, littering, human waste and other safety and environmental impacts.
Signs with information about the alcohol ban will be posted in parking areas, along beach trails and at local businesses that serve beachgoers. Regional Parks staff also will frequent the beaches on weekends to inform visitors about and enforce the new restrictions.
After Sonoma County Regional Parks banned alcohol possession at Forestville River Access in 2015 because of similar issues, there was a marked decrease in nuisance reports, department spokeswoman Meda Freeman said.
Alcohol already is prohibited at Healdsburg Veterans Memorial Beach and Guerneville River Park.
Park rangers, the California Highway Patrol and the Sonoma County Sheriff's Office also will enforce public safety measures in the Russian River corridor this summer.