Jeff Barnouw | Amphitheatre Drive
The San Dieguito River Park (SDRP) is losing Kevin McKernan. At its September 18 meeting the Joint Powers Authority Board of Directors thanked him “for his five years of dedicated service to the JPA as our Executive Director.” The resolution singled out his “improving the JPA’s internal operations and financial security,” acquisition of important properties and trail easements, “successful management of ongoing habitat programs and institution of new ones,” successful pursuit of grants, partnerships and other funding and collaboration opportunities “with other governments, non-profits and the many citizen groups and individuals in the River Park family.” Finally, “the completion of a new ranger station facility,” which came in on schedule and on budget, a long struggle as reported in the June 2020 Sandpiper.
The resolution adds, “Kevin has earned the respect of his colleagues, the Board and the River Park community though his calm and competent demeanor.” With a characteristic disclaimer that many of his accomplishments were supported by the collaboration of those he was working with, Kevin mentioned to me a number of things he is happy to have been able to do, such as balancing the budget each year, overseeing the planning, permitting, funding and construction of the Pamo Valley segment of the Coast to Crest Trail, settling a dispute with the City of San Diego that saved the JPA more than $270,000, transitioning all endowments into local community foundation stewardship, securing the last two trail easements on private property in Rancho Santa Fe for Coast to Crest alignment, securing over $300K in FEMA funding for storm damage to the trail system, and managing the park through the Covid-19 pandemic closures without incident. The acquisition of the Blum property, a 6-acre inholding within the Sycamore Creek Preserve that houses the Park headquarters, was aided by private donations but secured by Kevin’s arranging for major support from federal funds connecting with the Navy’s need for mitigation.
Kevin told me and other Dust Devils (trail maintenance volunteers) in the Lagoon that 90% of his work and time spent in the Park was a real source of pleasure for him, engaging with Rangers, staff and volunteers. His last day on the job will be Oct. 8, when his duties will be assumed, on a temporary basis, by Principal Planner Shawna Anderson. Kevin is moving on to a new position in large-scale landscape planning in the private sector, though still in the neighborhood of the Park. He will be missed by the SDRP.