WHO IS THE SIERRA STATE PARKS FOUNDATION?
The Sierra State Parks Foundation is the official cooperating association for seven California State Parks in the Lake Tahoe-Donner region. We are a registered 501(c)(3) non-profit organization with the mission of providing critically needed financial and professional support for education, interpretation, restoration and preservation consistent with the mission of California State Parks.
SSPF provides support to seven California State Parks: Washoe Meadows, Emerald Bay, DL Bliss, Ed Z’Berg Sugar Pine Point, Donner Memorial as well as Tahoe, Kings Beach State Recreation Areas.
WHY DO WE EXIST?
The Sierra State Parks Foundation believes that the Lake Tahoe-Donner California State Parks are unique treasures worthy of our support. We fund projects and educational programs that connect people with our rich natural resources and cultural heritage. Because of this work and advocacy, our parks will continue to be places of education and inspiration for generations to come.
WHY CAN’T STATE PARKS PAY?
California State Parks receive operating funds from three sources: State General Fund annual allocations, the State Parks and Recreation Fund (fee based) and contributions from partners, such as the Sierra State Parks Foundation. The amount supported by the General Fund has been reduced from 80% (1978) to 17% (2015) while visitation has doubled and park acreage has increased. Fees have become an important source of operating dollars and currently contribute 50% to the amount available to operate our Lake Tahoe-Donner California State Parks. It would require another 50% increase to operate the parks at 1978 levels. These revenues, coupled with the contributions of SSPF, have enable our local parks to keep their heads above the water, but do not come near the actual costs associated with park operations and maintenance directives.
There is no permanent public funding source for our state parks in California. Funding sources fluctuate year to year making long term planning and visioning difficult. We are striving for a day when our parklands are valued and supported with the level of protection, management and restoration they need.
WHERE DO WE GET OUR MONEY?
The Sierra State Parks Foundation operates four retail stores at our park visitor centers. In addition, fees are collected for tours of Vikingsholm (Emerald Bay State Park) and the Hellman-Ehrman Estate at Sugar Pine Point State Park. These sources of income enable our Foundation to cover our operational costs and return a modest amount back to the State for program needs. This strategy enables our donor contributions to be 100% applied to projects.
We depend on the generosity of our members and donors to get our projects complete. Our fundraising efforts are multi-fold: memberships, events, grants and direct contributions for specific projects. SSPF returned over $820,000 to our State Parks in 2018 for educational and interpretive programming, cultural and natural resource conservation projects, and visitor enhancements.
The Sierra State Parks Foundation is the small and mighty force of nature that is ensuring that our Lake Tahoe-Donner area California State Parks remain open and available for all to experience.