• Big Sur State Park: June Update

    By Cameron Douglas and Darci D’Anna

    With reports coming in of deeper budget cuts and possible state park closures, there’s a lot of concern about local revenue in the Big Sur village. Many are wondering what the summer will bring in the way of camping and tourism. This week, Cedar Street Times visited Big Sur to talk with locals and officials.

    Teresa Bradford, owner of the Heart Beat Gallery at River Inn, suggested there might be ways to keep park maintenance happening if regular park workers are laid off. Bradford pointed out that California has an untapped labor resource in the prison system. “Put the low-risk inmates to work,” she said. “We’re already paying their living expenses.”

    Rene Robles, General Manager of Big Sur Lodge, gave his perspective on the possibility of park closure. “It’s still under discussion. Maybe they’ll close it (the park), but I don’t think they will. There’s always a solution. It’s a big industry. There’s a lot of revenue, for the state park and for the community. The private sector is interested, and things can be worked out. I think the government is asking us, “What can you do to keep the park open?”big-sur-entrance-06-09

    Out by the road, construction crews worked to complete a wider entrance to the park and a left turn lane from southbound Highway One.

    big-sur-lodge-after-mudslide-04-09big-sur-tourists-june-09

    We talked on site at Pfeiffer Big Sur State Park with Curtis Price, State Park Superintendent of the Monterey District. “The situation is in flux,” Price told us. “A lot of things are on the table. We’re operating as a normal, summer camping season.”

    Price explained that because of the April mudslide, the usual advance campsite registration for Memorial Day didn’t happen. Crews worked long hours to install the Bailey bridge and get things ready as best they could. As soon as word went out that reservations were open for Memorial Day, the campgrounds sold out in an hour and a half.

    The mudslide originated from Pfeiffer Falls. The Falls area is now open, but due to extreme damage to parts of the trail, a minor detour has been routed. If you go, just follow the signs.

    The Superintendent also cleared up some questions about the installation of a one-lane, temporary “Bailey Bridge” to the campgrounds. “The idea was to re-align how vehicles get in and out of the park. We took the old bridge out because of the potential for mudslides after the fires. We started new projects to install a vehicle bridge and pedestrian bridge. Four abutments have actually been poured. But when the 2000 Parks & Water Bond funding got frozen, the contractor was told to go home.” Price further explained that the old bridge had aged to the point where it was not worth putting back in. Hence, the Bailey bridge.big-sur-bailey-bridge1

    Price expressed some puzzlement over Sacramento’s proposed cuts in state parks as a means of solving budget problems. “Why the emphasis on state parks?” Price asked. “I mean, we’re one-tenth of one percent of the state budget.”

    It’s a good question. As groups rally to support our state parks, some also point out that a reduction in park supervision is potentially quite dangerous.

    Price summed it up this way: “It’s been a challenging year, with the fires, the mud and the loss of bond funding. But the public really supports the parks. This park is extremely popular. The demand here far outweighs the supply.”


    posted to Cedar Street Times on June 6, 2009

    Topics: Cameron Douglas, Current Edition, Front PG News, Green

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