Due to cuts in the California State Parks budget, Palomar Mountain State Park has been fighting to stay open at full service for the last couple years. Thankfully, a recent budget fluke unearthed $10 million that will go to parks across the state on a match-fund basis. That means that all the money Palomar Mountain State Park can raise by Dec. 31 will be matched by California State Parks.
"This is an opportunity that is just not going to repeat itself," said Rick Barclay, chairman of the Friends of Palomar Mountain State Park Committee. To make the most of this fundraising opportunity, the Friends have organized Survive and Thrive, a fund drive with the goal of raising $80,000 by the end of the year. With state parks matching all the money that comes in, all donations will have double the impact.
"If we do this, it will meet our contractual obligations up until the end of June, 2015," said Barclay. "That will cover the cost to keep it open and make improvements." Of course, bad weather and other unpredictable fluctuations could cut short that goal, but Barclay hopes to make the most of this unique window of opportunity.
"We sense something from the public that the danger has passed," said Barclay. "That's a misconception, we need to keep raising money." Although the park survived the 2011 wave of cuts to park services, the park still faces the threat of reduced hours, services, and maintenance if they can't raise more money.
Palomar Mountain State Park spans 862 acres on land that has been occupied by both Native Americans and pioneers' homesteads. There are apple orchards at the park that are over 100-years-old and still producing apples.
With opportunities for camping, hiking, picnicking, fishing, and even views of Coronado and Catalina islands on clear days, it is a very well-rounded park. Doane Pond, located in the park, is a great spot for trout fishing. There are 11 miles of trails across varied terrain as well as the Boucher fire lookout, staffed by volunteers.
"Our fund drive's objective is twofold: to raise money to keep Palomar open, meaning to help it survive, and to fund the maintenance and improvements it so badly needs, to help it thrive," said Barclay. He hopes to put the funds raised to such things as re-roofing the bathrooms, trail maintenance, and other simple upkeep that needs to be taken care of.
All donations to the Survive and Thrive fundraiser are tax-deductible. You can donate by check or credit card at www.savepalomar.org.
"No amount is too small, we appreciate every dollar," said Barclay. "We are indebted to all the donors who have helped us out so far." To learn more about the park itself, visit www.palomarsp.org.