After five years of advocacy, Governor Brown has signed the 2016-17 State Budget to approve $700,000 to fully fund a solar power system at Malakoff Diggins State Historic Park. This has been a collaborative effort between SYRCL, District 4 Supervisor Hank Weston, county staff, State Parks, local parks associations and solar contractors; and is an issue that is dear to the Yuba watershed community.
As the epicenter for hydraulic mining during the Gold Rush, SYRCL has long advocated in support of Malakoff since the park is a stark reminder of the devastating impacts of large-scale mining on the Yuba River environment. When the State moved to close Malakoff in 2011 (along with the South Yuba River State Park), SYRCL led the effort to find stop-gap funding to keep the park open. Later, SYRCL secured additional funds to conduct an environmental study of installing a comprehensive solar power system at the park. Both grants were provided by the California State Parks Foundation.
“When we first set out to save the state parks from closure in 2011, we learned that Malakoff, which is off the grid, annually used over $70,000 worth of diesel fuel at the park. We were told that one way to help the parks was to cut operating costs. Replacing polluting diesel with solar power seemed like a ‘no-brainer!’ I especially want to commend Supervisor Hank Weston for never losing sight of this vision. Supervisor Hank Weston was one of the first to identify solar as a solution for Malakoff. Weston has been steadfast in his efforts to keep this project high on Nevada County’s list of legislative priorities at the State Capitol along with securing funds to restore and reopen the Bridgeport Covered Bridge.” – Caleb Dardick, SYRCL Executive Director
Malakoff was considered not enough of a revenue generator to offset its operating costs; including costs to bring power to the remote park for lighting and security systems that protect thousands of artifacts housed in the park’s historic buildings. Now, though the park is open and there is no longer a closure list, the effort to install a cost-effective, clean solar project has continued.
“Fantastic news and a great collective effort from everyone. A special thanks to Supervisor Weston, Caleb Dardick and SYRCL for their efforts in advocating for the project and for securing funds for the environmental studies and documents. This county and our partnerships are shining examples of what it takes to make our parks more sustainable, safe and open for future generations. Thank you from your very grateful local park stewards and California State Parks!” – Matthew Green, Chief Ranger Sierra District
With input from local contractors, State Parks developed an estimate of $700,000 for the project. The Malakoff Diggins funding allocation is contained in the main Budget Bill, SB 826, Chapter 23: “3790-301-0001—For capital outlay, Department of Parks and Recreation …..Malakoff Diggins SHP: Solar Panel Generator—Preliminary plans, working drawings, and construction….$700,000.”
Supervisor Weston expressed his gratitude to Assembly Member Rich Gordon, who sat on the Assembly subcommittee and the Conference Committee “and who is a strong supporter of this project. Also, we had a very active and persuasive local support group, led by SYRCL. They have been a strong partner in this endeavor.”