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Ranger Station At Last
Jeff Barnouw | Amphitheatre Drive

San Dieguito River Park Ranger Station.
Photo Jeff Barnouw

The Grand Public Opening of the San Dieguito River Park Ranger Station, scheduled for April 26, was understandably called off. Some days later I went by myself to visit with SDRP Executive Director Kevin McKernan in his new office in the Ranger Station, observing more than 6-foot social distancing. Furnished only with a few built-in desks and shelves, on which some of the Dust Devils had worked, the Station looked ready to be opened and populated, but also empty and waiting.

Whenever it will be officially inaugurated, the completion of the Ranger Station marks the end of a long struggle, which had appeared hopeless a few years ago. The original plans were done by the same architectural firm that had won an Orchid in 2010 for the new SDRP Office on Sycamore Creek Road three years after the old one was destroyed by the Witch Creek Fire. But when these plans were put out to bid, twice, the cost of building was far beyond what the Park could afford.

Things looked bleak until a chance meeting with Dewain Baker, who had built his home on Bernardo Mountain and turned out to be a custom design/build contractor, opened a way to move forward. The new plans were simpler, they divided offices and garage into two separate buildings, both oriented toward the Lagoon wetlands instead of Via de la Valle. And the price was manageable! The JPA Board gave its blessing in January 2019, construction started in March and was completed on schedule (and on budget) a year later in March 2020.
When conditions allow, the Ranger Station will still be waiting and ready for supporters and users of the Park to visit, maybe for a Grand Public Opening.


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