The Sly Park Recreation Area is more than just a pretty place. It’s also a money-maker for the community, bringing in an estimated $2.4 million in tourist dollars to help support local businesses.
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That number comes from Cheri Jaggers, the Parks and Recreation superintendent for the El Dorado Irrigation District (EID). She based it on a study done by the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers in which standard multipliers were developed to project the economic impact on local communities of recreation areas.
While Sly Park was not part of the study, Jaggers used the same multipliers and came up with a conservative estimate of $2.4 million dollars spent locally by tourists using the Sly Park Recreation Area. That total does not include fees paid by visitors to enter and use the facility.
“The park helps support a very nice grocery store and a half-dozen restaurants that wouldn’t be here if not for the tourist dollars,” said Jaggers. “We’d all be going to Placerville to shop instead.”
Just three years ago, Jaggers estimates the economic impact was $1.6 million, or 50 percent less than what it is today.
So far this year, 500,000 visitors have used the recreation area. And while they are busiest during the summer, the park is almost always occupied. On Thursday, a handful of fishermen were on the docks bringing in their limit of rainbow trout after 3,000 pounds of fish were planted in the lake. And when there’s snow, a lower parking lot is cordoned off for children to use to build snowmen.
Other facilities are available for visitors with special needs. For example there are six group areas and 13 campsites that have corrals for those on horseback. In addition they have 10 campsites for the disabled and an ADA compliant boat ramp.
Because of the beautiful setting, the park is in demand as a backdrop for different films and videos. Jagger said staff have worked with a dozen production companies in the last two years resulting in two award-winning films: “Bloodlines” and “Nothing Left.” Two years ago they did a magazine shoot featuring ice hockey great, Wayne Gretzky. More recently they were the site for a music video featuring the Papa Roach band out of Vacaville.
Asked what’s the draw, Mary Lynn Carlton, who is the communications and community relations director for EID said, “It’s because we’re wonderful to work with. We make it easy for them to shoot because we know that for them time is money. And our prices are very very reasonable at $250 a day.”
Carlton and Jaggers also noted that there are many extras and production people in the immediate area if a film crew needs help so that’s an added bonus.
Carlton said in the past EID has had to subsidize the park. Now more people are using the park and that revenue, plus cutting costs, has put the facility in a break-even position. For that, Carlton credits Jaggers who has been the superintendent at Sly Park since 2008. “When she arrived, the facility was $1.6 million in the red. But for three years in a row we have broken even,” said Carlton.
Jaggers said they are always working on improving the park. Recent projects have included grading additional camp sites to level them out, improving the day use area, cleaning out the weeds in Hazel Meadow and replanting it with native grasses, and adding another camp site for the disabled.
“Our visitations have grown exponentially,” said Jagger. “Many people are attracted to the waterfall at the lake. It’s a destination in itself. But the biking and hiking trails are also very popular.”
Jagger found out just how popular two years ago when she was at an ATV Jamboree in Utah and was surprised to hear Sacramento Sheriff’s Deputies talking among themselves about how much they liked the trails at Sly Park Recreation Area.
Contact Dawn Hodson at 530-344-5071 or [email protected] Follow @DHodsonMtDemo on Twitter.