After several years of preparation, the California Department of State Parks and Recreation has approved the management plan for Long Valley, in the Mount San Jacinto State Park and Wilderness.
This plan is the result of the overall Mount San Jacinto State Park General Plan adopted in 2002. At that time, State Parks felt a more detailed plan would be appropriate for Long Valley.
Long Valley is found in the northeastern corner of Mount San Jacinto State Park, at the base of a short pathway leading from the Mountain Station terminus of the Palm Springs Aerial Tramway (the Tram). Long Valley sits near the edge of one of the steepest escarpments in the nation, which takes a dramatic northeastward plunge from the nearby Mountain Station toward Palm Springs.
“The approval of the Long Valley Management Plan is the latest of a long line of recent accomplishments for the park, despite economic hardship for our Department,” said Garratt Aitchison the sector Superintendent for Mt. San Jacinto State Park. “Although the LVMP prescribes multiple improvements in and around Long Valley, our initial focus will be on improving both the nature and desert view trails. Improvements will revolve around resource protection, accessibility, and an improved visitor experience.”
Work will involve moving existing trails away from the fragile meadow area, providing additional stream crossings and extending portions of the trails. These projects will protect resources and provide a valuable recreational experience. Improvements will be gradual and largely dependent on available statewide trail funding, Aitchison said.
Two significant trail projects continuing this summer are phase II of Fuller Ridge (PCT) as well as Round Valley trail improvements around the meadow and among the campsites. The park is also hosting an advanced trails class this June, according to Aitchison. More than 40 participants from around the country are expected to attend and focus on bridge construction and trail improvements in Long Valley.
“Other notable improvements in the works are the installation of electrical hook-ups at several campsites at both the Idyllwild and Stone Creek campgrounds,” Aitchison said. This project will generate revenue for the park, he added. “It not only has the potential to increase camping revenue, but also provides a service that many RVer’s keep asking for.”
Aitchison has also received a $350,000 grant for improvements to the park’s interpretive program.
“With the recent completion of the Interpretation Master Plan, the timing on this was perfect,” he stated. “Considering we are finishing up on an extensive exhibit contract atop the Tram, I am devoting a majority of this money for the Idyllwild side of the mountain.”
A new visitor center will replace the singlewide modular building. Interpretive space can expand from a 4-by-8-foot piece of slat wall to approximately 500 square feet of displays, exhibits, and a sales area for the nonprofit partner, Mount San Jacinto Natural History Association.
The Management Plan further defines the types of facilities that will be offered in Long Valley and where they will be located.