Sierra State Parks Foundation celebrates 50 years

Postcard of Pine Lodge (Ehrman Mansion). | Sierra State Parks Foundation

By Heidi Doyle

The Sierra State Parks Foundation was born when a group led by local women of the North Shore of Lake Tahoe, persuaded the Department of Parks and Recreation to scrap its plans for razing the 1903 Ehrman Mansion after it was acquired by the state in 1965. As a result, the concept of creating formulized public-private partnerships to improve the management of the state’s park system was formed.

June 26 | Sugar Pine Point State Park, Tahoma

In 1968, the Lake Tahoe Advisory Committee was formed by state parks director William Penn Mott to advise for the development of four newly acquired state parks at Lake Tahoe: Sugar Pine Point, Emerald Bay, DL Bliss and Tahoe State Recreation Area. The early meetings centered around the use of the Ehrman Mansion, at Sugar Pine Point State Pak (now Ed Z’berg Sugar Pine Point State Park) as an Interpretive Center and plans for Vikingsholm Castle at Emerald Bay State Park. The Foundation was later asked to support the education and interpretive efforts at Bodie State Historic Park, Plumas Eureka and Empire Mine State Parks, and did so for 25 years before those parks were able to establish its own cooperating associations.

Now named the Sierra State Parks Foundation, the seeds of this public-private partnership have grown into a steady and valued State Park partner to eight California State Parks in the Tahoe region. The Foundation has granted California State Parks more than $15 million and thousands of volunteer hours toward historic building restoration, interpretive staffing, educational programming, enabling historic house museum tours at two sites, trail construction and other projects.

Thanks to the Foundation, visitor centers are open, historic landmarks are available to visitors with restoration projects completed, accessible trails are built and lined with interpretive signage, innovative park stores operate and a collaborative relationship exists with park staff. |