With the closure dates for a few California state parks looming, a San Diego group has stepped up to raise enough money to keep a nearby park open.
Friends of the Palomar State Mountain Park are asking people to pledge for their goal of $60,000 in order to keep the park fully operational.
A Rancho Santa Fe family, Robert S. Wilson and his wife, have offered to pay for half of the required funding if the group can secure $30,000 in pledges.
So far, the Friends have raised a little more than $22,000 – meaning they have roughly $8,000 more to go.
“The bottom line: It will get the park open,” said Rick Barclay, chairman of Friends of Palomar Mountain State Park.
Gov. Jerry Brown announced in 2011 that nearly a quarter of all state parks would have to close because of budgetary constrictions. A few campgrounds in San Diego are no longer in use year-round and unless the money reappears, they’ll remain closed to the public.
Palomar's campgrounds closed in October because of monetary restraints.
Barclay said that the group has been working with the state Parks and Rec department in in order to use this funding specifically for Palomar Park. While the California Parks Department has yet to agree to this type of donation-funded park, Barclay said he’s hopeful they will work with the group to keep it open.
In order for Palomar State Mountain Park to be sustainable, the campgrounds have to be open in order to generate the necessary revenue. Currently, the park is making money from day use fees, but it’s not enough to keep the campgrounds open.
The $60,000 would cover the gap between projected revenue and expenses, said Barclay. Some of the money would also go toward cleanup costs and educational programs for the park.
“We’re not proposing that Palomar be run by volunteers … we want to keep the park run by professional staff and crew,” he said.
Nedra Martinez, state park supervisor, said the department has the proposal and is working with the group.
“No one has said, ‘No this won’t work,’” she said.
The Friends proposal is different in the sense that it is pledge-based, said Martinez. Should the group achieve the $60,000-goal, they are hoping to get the Parks and Rec department to approve it by March, before they are in danger of losing the ranger.
That gives the Friends about a month to reach their goal.
Barclay’s hoping for the best. He has personal attachments to the park aside from professional, as he used to volunteer for trail maintenance and enjoys visiting the area.
“It’s a beautiful place,” Barclay said. “It’s something that should be shared with everyone.”