Sycamore Ranch, west of Grass Valley, on track to be self-sufficient
Special to The Union
Kurt Flint packs up his RV and makes the trek from Santa Cruz to Yuba County a few times a year for one reason: Sycamore Ranch.
“This is a really great place. It’s quiet, you get plenty of space; it’s just beautiful,” Flint said.
Sycamore Ranch has become an annual destination for the disabled veteran, with most of his trips lasting a couple of weeks.
“They do a good job on the upkeep of this place,” Flint said. “The park is under a new manager this year too, which has made it even better than before.”
Yuba County took over the park – located about 13 miles east of Marysville and 20 miles west of Grass Valley along Highway 20 – in 2010, purchasing it for $575,000 after the previous owners of the private recreational vehicle campground saw it fall into disrepair.
It has 56 campsites ranging from $30 to $45 a night, four areas for large gatherings and a day-use area.
Yuba County officials have hoped from the start that the camping fees would cover maintenance and operation costs. That hasn’t happened yet, but if trends continue the way they have so far in 2018, the park is on its way to becoming self-sufficient.
“Our goal is to have the park be self-sustaining – to take care of maintenance, equipment, buildings, infrastructure and upkeep. Historically, we’ve never been there. We’ve always needed a little from the county’s general fund, but if the uptick we are seeing continues, we are on track to make that engine sustainable and to support itself,” said Jason Kopping, project manager for the Yuba County Community Development and Services Agency.
From May through July, camping fees raised approximately $46,000 for the county – that’s more than double the totals for the same months last year. The best camping year in the recent past was in 2016 – which saw camping fees raise a total of about $23,700 in the months of May, June and July.
“Overall, we have invested quite a bit of energy into Sycamore (Ranch) and a lot of dedication by community development agency staff to make it a destination location and it is paying off,” said County Administrator Robert Bendorf.
Kopping said the uptick in camping could be for a variety of reasons. The county’s Public Works team has done quite a bit of work at the location since last year’s high-water events to bring it back to the standards guests expect, he said.
Word of mouth has also contributed to it, he said. One recent example being a couple from out of state who have a YouTube Channel about their travels. A video they published in early June has already gained a couple hundred views. Kopping said he has heard from some new campers that they saw the video and wanted to make the trip.
Events like weddings, the annual Kiwanis Hogs & Hulas, and an upcoming three-day reggae festival that will use the facilities also helps people learn about the park, Kopping said.
“We have our regulars, but we are making new regulars,” he said.
As for new features, the county has updated the campground’s restroom facilities this year and set up a kiosk at the park to help people complete their reservations.
The county also has plans to go live with an online reservation system. Kopping said the system is being worked out now, but he hopes it will be live by the end of August.
Kopping said the county will continue working toward its goal of making the park the best it can be for its campers.
“Having enough people that see the beauty of the park, that want to come back and spend time with family and friends, that’s our biggest goal,” he said. “Our hope is to build that clientele that will use the park, respect it and help us sustain it so it can go on forever.”
Jake Abbott is a reporter for the Marysville Appeal-Democrat.
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