Paul Reisman, superintendent of Mt. San Jacinto State Park. Photo by J.P. Crumrine

There’s a new superintendent in town. Paul Reisman took the reins of the Mt. San Jacinto State Park in June. “The first month was blue skies, the second started with a roar,” he said.

Reisman has been coming to Idyllwild to camp and to backpack since his childhood in Fallbrook. “I like the mountains and have been coming here as a getaway for years,” he said, explaining his reason for seeking the superintendent’s position here.

When asked which was his favorite campground or trail, he replied, “Anywhere my phone doesn’t work.”

Last month’s Mountain Fire was an abrupt introduction to the San Jacintos. With the fire so close and weeks later the Silver Fire approaching from the opposite direction, Reisman said he’s been short of sleep.

But the community has impressed him with its calm reaction to the fires. “You’ve been planning for years with [the Mountain Area Safety Taskforce]; the whole community knew what they’re doing,” he said.

Reisman’s staff has already been evaluating the Mountain Fire’s devastation. He, similar to the Forest Service’s Burned Area Emergency Response team, sees the possibility of many trails at the top of Saddle Junction being closed for months.

One of his objectives is to find a way to keep Mt. San Jacinto State Park open every day. “It’s what I want. We’ll see if it happens,” he said. The state parks suffered cutbacks sometime back that drove the local park to fewer open days.

Reisman started with California State Parks in September 1986. His first assignment was as a lifeguard at Bolsa Chica and Huntington State beaches. Then he got a winter part-time assignment at Anza-Borrego Desert State Park.

Reisman moved between several Southern California state parks until he became a supervising ranger back at Anza-Borrego Desert State Park.

From the desert, he descended to a position at the Salton Sea State Recreation Area.

“During this time, I started coming back to San Jacinto as a getaway from the heat. I spent many weekends on the mountain hiking the trails and backpacking around from Round Valley to Little Round Valley and Strawberry Junction and back to the tram,” Reisman said. “Mt. San Jacinto and wilderness became my little escape place like it has for so many others over the years.”

Reisman is married and has two children — twins.