My name is Anthony Veerkamp, and I’m leading the National Trust’s efforts to save Pond Farm.
We are partnering with the Department of Parks and Recreation, which operates the largest and most diverse state park system in the nation; the California State Parks Foundation, the statewide independent nonprofit organization dedicated to protecting, enhancing, and advocating for California's magnificent state parks; and the Stewards of the Coast and Redwoods, a nonprofit, environmental and interpretive organization that works to support volunteer, education, and stewardship programs in the California State Parks Russian River District.
While our efforts are focused on saving Pond Farm, in fact the entire 6,000-acre Austin Creek State Recreation Area in which this unique historic site is located has been in peril. Austin Creek had been included on a list of 70 parks proposed for closure on July 1due to a $22 million State of California general fund budget cut.
While those funds have not been restored, over the past year numerous local partners and private donors have stepped up to keep most of these parks open, including, I’m thrilled to report, Austin Creek. Our partners have worked together to successfully negotiate an operating agreement to keep Austin Creek open during the worst budget crisis California State Parks has ever known. This reprieve will allow Stewards of the Coast and Redwoods to step up to operate a campground and backcountry campsites, manage trail maintenance, and provide overall protection for the natural and cultural resources in this scenic park.
With the immediate threat of closure averted, together we can refocus our collective efforts to preserve the legacy of Pond Farm.