Over the last year or two, we have slowly but surely moved into a new era, an era of diminished funding and reduced services. If folks want a particular service, they increasingly have to “pay” for it, either with money or by volunteering.
Want an assistant museum director? Help pay for part of his salary. The Plumas County Museum Association has done just that. Want to keep libraries open and stocked with current titles? The Friends of the Library has done just that. Numerous civic groups continue to donate to our schools to keep sports, music and art programs alive.
The latest group to step up to the plate in a big way is the Plumas-Eureka State Park Association (PESPA). This is not a large group. It is not a particularly well-funded group; it relies on memberships, donations and museum sales. But its members are dedicated and passionate about our county’s only state park. With the park set to close next year, they have come up with a proposal to take over its operations.
The group is uniquely qualified to do so. Members already serve as docents, organize the annual Gold Discovery Days and lead restoration efforts. Now they are proposing to run the campground. Hugely popular, it books up every summer and is an important tourist draw in Eastern Plumas County.
District ranger Scott Elliott is in Sacramento this week to meet with state parks about the plan. “PESPA already does so much,” he told us. “This is a natural extension.” He envisions a continued partnership in which the state does make some commitment to the site. “There are a lot of details to be worked out,” he said. “We’ve never done anything like this before.”
His task now is to convince the decision-makers in Sacramento that this is a good idea. We call on our state senator, Ted Gaines, and our assemblyman, Dan Logue, to use whatever influence they have to urge the state parks department to move quickly on the proposal. PESPA and Elliott hope they can close the deal by the end of the year.
But we need to help those who help us, as well. If you are a business that benefits from tourism at the state park, we encourage you to become a member of the park association or to make a donation. Individuals who value the park or use its trails and facilities, we call on you, too, to become members, to make a donation or to volunteer your time.
It’s come to this: If we want a state park, we will have to care-take it until the state can resume its duties. Let’s help the hardworking volunteers of Plumas-Eureka State Park Association as they take on this task. Learn more about PESPA at plumas-eureka.org.