Residents and visitors are encouraged to enjoy Humboldt County Parks over the Fourth of July weekend. As a reminder, fireworks are not allowed for public safety reasons and to prevent debris from polluting beaches and waterways.
The Humboldt County Parks system includes 15 park units and the Hammond Trail. The seasonal dam has been installed to create the popular swimming area at Freshwater Park located just a few miles east of Eureka on Freshwater Road. Other parks with river access include A.W. Way (Mattole River), Mad River, and Van Duzen Parks. Parks with beach access include Big Lagoon, Centerville, Clam Beach, Mad River, and Moonstone, along with Crab Park in Loleta, Table Bluff Park on the South Spit, and several access points on the North Spit.
In March 2016, the Open Humboldt on-line forum was used to solicit public input related to ongoing shortfalls in the County Parks budget. Out of 760 respondents, 45% visit County Parks on a weekly basis and 85% indicated that County Parks are "extremely important." Valuable feedback was received regarding what people appreciate about County Parks, facility conditions, improvement ideas, and impacts that would result from park closures.
As a short-term measure to address the County Parks budget shortfalls, funds are being allocated from the County's deferred maintenance trust for high-priority facility needs. In June 2016, a new well was installed at Big Lagoon Park to replace an older well that was no longer producing enough water to meet the needs of the campground and restrooms. The new well at Big Lagoon Park will end the annual occurrence of the water system going dry during the busy summer months. In addition, urgent repairs are planned for certain restrooms and the County Parks maintenance shop.
To avoid park closures and provide sufficient funds for normal operation and maintenance in the current fiscal year, the Board of Supervisors will consider adopting proposed increases for certain park fees in late July or August. Camping fees at A.W. Way, Big Lagoon, Clam Beach, Samoa, and Van Duzen Parks are proposed to increase from $20 to $25. Day-use fees at A.W. Way and Big Lagoon Parks are proposed to increase from $3 and $2, respectively, to $5. Day-use fees at Freshwater and Van Duzen Parks will remain at $5. The cost for an annual pass is proposed to increase from $40 to $45. Annual passes cover day-use fees and enable a $5 discount on camping fees. Annual passes are now issued as plastic cards rather than windshield stickers, to reduce production costs and improve convenience for pass holders.
Humboldt County plans to continue exploring other short-term and long-term options for ensuring a sustainable balanced budget for the County Parks system.