County Parks Strives to Keep Campgrounds Open Despite Drought
The ongoing drought continues to impact the water level in Pescadero Creek, the sole source of water for 90-year-old Memorial County Park and its campgrounds. Throughout the year, the San Mateo County Parks Department, which manages Memorial Park, has been monitoring the flow in Pescadero Creek in order to effectively manage the water supply.
With an eye on the upcoming summer camping season, the Department has been making improvements to the water treatment, storage and distribution systems. Three, 10,000-gallon water storage tanks will be installed to bring total storage capacity to 60,000 gallons. At the same time, Parks Director Marlene Finley has considered how campgrounds can be open while conserving water in this third year of drought. “Our goal is to make camping available this year even with limited water,” said Finley. “We will do that by opening up 50 percent of our family campsites and closing campground showers.” In addition to the 62 family campsites, youth groups will have access to five campsites located in Memorial Park and nearby Sam McDonald Park.
“If the drought continues through the next few months,” Finley states that, “further actions may be necessary, such as replacing flush toilets with chemical toilets and possibly prohibiting open fires based on the level of fire danger.” Finley adds that the good news is that the Department is currently taking reservations for camping and doing everything possible to stay open.
If campers are interested in a more rustic experience similar to what was depicted in the bookWild, visitors can pack in camping gear via hiking trails in Pescadero Creek Park which connects to Memorial Park and use rustic campsites at Tarwater Trail Camp and Shaw Flat Trail Camp. These trail camps have vault toilets but no water. Backpack stoves and lanterns with on/off switches are permitted. Campers must obtain a permit from Park rangers in Memorial Park and pay a $10 fee to use the sites.
To make camping even more accessible, the Department has opened the Toyon Campground in Huddart Park in Woodside to family camping during the week and for youth groups on weekends.
Memorial Park’s day use facilities will remain fully open, including group picnic areas and the Visitor Center. In addition, the camp store will be open to campers and day visitors.
To make camping reservations in all San Mateo County Parks make an on-line reservation or call (650) 363-4021, Monday through Thursday, 8 a.m. to 4:30 p.m.