Sycamore Island, a 600-acre stretch of land along the San Joaquin River near Valley Children’s Hospital, will now be open to the public every day of the week.
Monday, the River Parkway Trust and the San Joaquin River Conservancy held a press conference to celebrate funding secured in the state budget that will allow Sycamore Island to be more accessible to the public.
The backstory: Previously, Sycamore Island was only open on Fridays, Saturdays and Sundays, as well as holidays.
- Two years ago, Asm. Joaquin Arambula (D–Fresno) secured $15 million in the state budget that will further the ability of the River Parkway Trust to manage Sycamore Island and complete various maintenance projects.
Driving the news: With the money in hand, Sycamore Island will now be open to the public from 6 a.m. to 8:30 p.m. every single day of the summer.
- Rep. Jim Costa (D–Fresno), who penned the legislation to form the San Joaquin River Conservancy in 1992 when he served in the California Assembly, noted that the public now has access to 5,900 acres within the 22-mile stretch of river between Friant Dam and Highway 99.
- The public has free access to Sycamore Island on Mondays through Fridays, and there will be a $9 vehicle day-use fee applied on weekends.
- The River Parkway Trust will undertake deferred maintenance projects in the upcoming years, including improvements to the roads leading into Sycamore Island.
What they’re saying: Costa called Sycamore Island one of the crown jewels of the region, and the vision from when the conservancy was founded over 30 years to increase public access is coming to fruition.
- “That’s what this day is all about, making sure that we have continued access as we build on to the next milestones,” Costa said.
- Karen Buhr, the Interim Executive Officer of the conservancy, grew up in Fresno and said she went all around the state to enjoy nature but never actually went to the San Joaquin River.
- “I am really excited about this impactful day because I really am thankful for all of the children here in Fresno and Madera and surrounding areas that are going to get to come out and enjoy this, that are going to get to come out here and just be in this space and not have to travel to all the places that I had to travel to to get into nature and really feel it,” Buhr said.