A visit to our Lake Tahoe and Donner State Parks is an integral part of who we and the setting of connections we make with our families and friends. Our parks have been described as a magical place and oasis for the spirit. Thankfully, the gates to the parks are open, but we miss the ability to share important moments with you. Along with everyone else, this year finds us pivoting and reacting to cope with the COVID-19 pandemic. As of today, we likely will not be able to open the exhibit spaces in our visitor centers, welcome you to the interiors of our treasured historic house museums, or host any of our famous in-person events. Under guidelines established by our health officials, we can operate our in-park stores and host small (6-person maximum) volunteer activities, interpretive programming, and special outside tours.
Even as we experience a projected 74% income decrease, the parks are filled to capacity, and our need to fund positions to support this visitation and maintenance impact continues. We are doing our best to meet this demand with our limited staff and capital resources.
Our foundation has a remarkable 55-year history and we have weathered many challenges over the years. We are firm in our resolve to survive this pandemic financially, and welcome you back to our open park facilities in May 2021 and continue the legacy 50 more years. Though our team is strong and adaptable, we have been forced to furlough staff sadly, cut wages, and operating expenses where we can. We are aggressively reducing costs while continuing to serve the public and our foundation members. We have now reduced our operational expenses by 50% to date. Luckily, SSPF’s Board of Directors carefully created a reserve fund. Additionally, we have received grants from the Small Business Administration, Tahoe Truckee Community Foundation, the California State Parks Foundation, and Parks California to help sustain us at the basic level of operation. Even with these measures, we predict a $250,000 shortfall until we can reboot our mission next May 2021.
We realize these are unprecedented times for all of us. We are writing this letter to seek your financial support to sustain our Foundation’s mission. Any financial support is so appreciated so we can keep our awesome employees on payroll, continue to care for our precious cultural resources, provide innovative school programming for this coming year, and create the unique park experiences you have come to expect from Sierra State Parks Foundation.
Your donation to our Covid-19 Resilience Fund will go directly to maintain our payroll and operating expenses for the Foundation. They are tax-deductible. Thank you in advance for all you do to support the noble mission of our Foundation. We appreciate you all very much!