Mission Trails Regional Park Foundation
By Jay Wilson
The Mission Trails Regional Park’s (MTRP) Visitor and Interpretive Center is drawing closer to its 20th anniversary in February. Over the past two decades, nearly 1.5 million visitors have entered this magnificent sprawling building and been amazed by all the educational exhibits and displays waiting to be explored. “This is one of the best visitor centers I have seen” or “this building rivals the best visitor centers in the national parks” are comments frequently heard as people tour the nearly 15,000 square feet that make up the Visitor and Interpretive Center.
On Wednesday, Dec. 17, Councilmembers Mark Kersey and Scott Sherman held a ribbon-cutting ceremony to officially open the 1,000-plus acres of the West Sycamore portion of MTRP. Located to the east of Stonebridge Parkway in Scripps Ranch, West Sycamore offers over six miles of new trails to be explored. Although it’s separated from the main portion of MTRP, two Rangers have been assigned to this new addition.
Virtual tours of key museums and visitor centers are now featured through Google Maps, and the MTRP Visitor and Interpretive Center has recently been added. Go to google.com/maps and enter Mission Trails Visitor Center in the search window. Click on “Inside View” and you are ready to begin a step-by-step virtual tour of the entire building. A virtual tour of the Kumeyaay Lake Campground, which is open Friday and Saturday nights with its 46 campsites, has also been added.
Restoration of the 95 acres that burned on KwaayPaay began in November with the assistance of 11 members of an outstanding AmeriCorps crew. They worked tirelessly from Nov. 11 through Dec. 19. The crew camped out in tents at the Kumeyaay Lake Campground. Under the direction of Park Rangers, they accomplished many tasks from spreading rolls of jute over burned out areas on the top of KwaayPaay and rebuilding trails up its hillside to installing fences to ensure hikers do not wander off-trail. A second crew will arrive in January.
The MTRP Foundation will continue to sponsor free events and programs at the Visitor Center in 2015. The art exhibitions in the Visitor Center Gallery feature local award-winning artists; each exhibition is on display for four weeks. Currently, artwork created by students from nine high schools in the Grossmont Union High School District is on display through Jan. 2 in the Visitor Center Gallery.
An average of two concerts are scheduled each month on designated Sundays beginning at 3 p.m. in the Visitor Center Theater. The next concert will be held on Sunday, Dec. 21, with the return of Jeff Pekarek with Fred Benedetti performing “Panamerican Sea Shanties II.” Renowned guitarist James Earp returns to perform on Jan. 4, and the Santee Community Chorus returns on Jan. 18. Go to our home page at mtrp.org for a complete listing of the concerts and art exhibitions scheduled throughout 2015.
Linda Hawley’s exciting “Nature Adventures!” classes for children 4 and up are offered each month on designated Tuesdays and Wednesdays. Her 90-minute program features a different topic each month. The next classes will be held on Jan. 20 and 21, when the topic will be “Kumeyaay Life Before 1789.” Children attend one class a month and must be accompanied by an adult. Visit our home page under “More News” for additional information including topics, dates, costs, and registration forms.
If poetry and nature interests your adventuresome spirit, the city of San Diego’s Park and Recreation Department is offering a three-day, two-night poetry workshop with poet Jim Moreno on Feb. 13, 14 and 15. “The Valentine’s Day Weekend” workshop will blend writing time for beginners to seasoned poets in four structured writing workshops. Star Gazing with the San Diego Astronomy Association, a Guided Nature Walk, and a Saturday Sunset Open Mic for campout poets and community at the Kumeyaay Lake amphitheater are blended with poetry events. The first workshop begins Friday evening with the San Diego Astronomy Association and culminates Sunday morning with a DreamCatcher craft workshop followed by participants writing poems about actualizing dreams. For more information, to go http://jimpoet.com/id80.html
There is still time to make a donation to the MTRP Foundation and receive a write-off for your 2014 taxes. Clicking the “Donate” button on the MTRP homepage at mtrp.org. Your support of the MTRP Foundation helps ensure that every day is an exciting adventure at Mission Trails Regional Park!
—Jay Wilson is executive director of the Mission Trails Regional Park Foundation.