Wayne Breece, Cooperating Associations Program Manager for California State Parks, called Trust Executive Director Rick Lemyre with the good news, the culmination of more than a year of effort. “Congratulations!” Breece said. “We look forward to working with you.”
Cooperating associations (CAs) are non-profit charitable organizations dedicated to enhancing educational and interpretive programs in California State Parks. The JMHT brings the total number of CAs to 88, serving most of the 280 state parks (some CAs serve more than one park). The associations’ memberships total more than 27,000, providing docents, volunteers, and educational and interpretive needs that State Parks would otherwise be unable to provide.
The historical preservation role the Trust has played for 20 years will continue, with a major focus on restoring John Marsh’s Stone House. The Trust will also continue in its recent efforts to improve and develop other parts of the Marsh Creek State Park and get them open to the public.
“There is so much in the park that we can help accomplish, it’s amazing, and a little overwhelming,” said Lemyre. “There are 70 miles of trails, hundreds of camping sites, and some ancient archaeology that needs to be protected.”
The improvements to the park’s land and facilities are just a part of the Trust’s expanded goals. Important cultural history is also there to be explored.
“The history of the Bay Miwok Indians that lived on land in within the park is also fascinating, and all but forgotten,” Lemyre said. “So is the history of Hispanics in the area, first as part of Mexican-controlled Alta California, then through Marsh’s work with the vaqueros who helped him run his ranch.”
About a half-dozen threatened or endangered species live within the parks 3,700 acres, and work must be done to protect them and many endangered species of indigenous plants. A 7,000-year-old archaeology site near the house, which has been called “the most significant in the (State Parks) system” by the Sacramento Archaeology Society, also needs protection and further study.
“The possibilities for the park are virtually limitless,” Lemyre said. “We’ll continue our focus on restoring the Stone House, but the chance to help with so many other wonderful projects at the same time is aa rare opportunity. The fact is that until we can get some things done and get parts of the park open, people won’t be able to get into the park to visit Marsh’s historic home. Being a CA will be a huge help in generating the kind of support we need to get things done for the benefit of everyone.”
Lemyre said the Trust board will be meeting soon with State Parks officials to create a list of priorities to address. In the meantime, work will continue on the $750,000 stabilization project now under way and expected to be completed this summer.