A $15,000 grant from the California State Parks Foundation will help the Plumas-Eureka State Park Association meet its $70,000 commitment to keep the park open for two years.
“This is really good news,” said the association’s vice president, Lyn Nafzgar. She said that the association had applied for $35,000 (its annual commitment) and received nearly half of its request. She is hopeful that a similar amount could be awarded next year.
The association entered into a two-year agreement with the California Department of Parks and Recreation, under which the local association would contribute $70,000 to the park’s operation and the parks department would provide a ranger, perform maintenance and operate the campground.
The association had enough funds in its coffers to fund the 2012 calendar year, but began aggressively fundraising to bank another $35,000 for 2013.
Nafzgar said that the association has also received $9,000 in personal donations to date, and is hoping to add more funds after this weekend’s Gold Discovery Days at the state park.
Membership in the state park association has also increased and it now boasts 215 members. Membership dues raise about $6,000 annually. That money is used to help the park as needed, such as with office supplies, interpreter projects and an annual docent recognition dinner.
Nafzgar said whether the two-year agreement is renewed would depend on the number of people who utilize the park.
“If we can get more visitors staying at the park, then that will bring in revenue,” Nafzgar said.
Regular visitors to the park know it’s critical as well.
“It’s important that we just keep coming,” said Reno resident Steve Halliwell, 55, who has stayed at the campground since he was 12. He and his wife, Pat, bring their children every year as well.
His sister-in-law Letta Hlavachek, who lives in Sonoma, said that she and her husband habitually visit national parks both in the United States and abroad. She is a college counselor and he is a recently retired teacher. “Having parks like this is critical for education,” she said.
The campground had vacancies earlier in the season, but it is almost full this weekend, which is important to the state when it decides which parks will remain open.
“The only real revenue the state gets from the park is from the campground,” said Jay Skutt, the association’s president, noting that’s important because the state is hoping for a break-even scenario.
While the association is enjoying a two-year commitment, what comes next is unknown.
Jerry Emory, the director of communications for the California State Parks Foundation (the organization that provided the $15,000 grant), said it is working with the state to find a permanent resolution to the situation.
He said that the Plumas-Eureka State Park grant is one of 23 that the foundation has awarded thus far.
“These are all one-year grants,” he said. “Our primary goal is to keep the parks off the closure lists. It gives us a bit of a breather to think up longer-term solutions.”
The association is already looking ahead and is seeking new ways to augment its funding.
Proceeds from the museum store, memberships and donations aren’t enough.
Gold Discovery Days, which is scheduled for this weekend, is a popular event, but since most of the activities are free, it raises little revenue.
Skutt said this year the association is planning a “Dinner in the Park” for Aug. 15. Chef Sean Conry from Longboards will serve a family-style dinner of chicken and ribs, with various side dishes. There will be an auction and music as well.
More information will be available in the coming weeks, but tickets may be purchased at the park museum or by calling Skutt at 836-4135.
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