Clear Creek Youth Camp’s may close to public
Clear Creek Youth Camp is unique both in the Sierra and in the state hierarchy.
Public use of the facility is in danger of being ended unless the state can find a way to keep it up without leasing it for long periods of time.
A brief drive from Carson City up Old Clear Creek Road, the camp is 40 acres of prime property in the scenic Sierra foothills. It is also the only facility of its kind owned by the state of Nevada.
The youth camp built by the federal government as a Job Corps center in 1969 hasn’t changed much in 30 years, and that’s one of its problems.
Maintenance at the facility has barely kept up, with only small improvements, for years. Its upkeep has been in the control of the state buildings and grounds division. The camp offers unique opportunities to the public, but the cost of operating the camp has forced the division to lease the public camp to long-term tenants such as Right of Passage.
Groups like ROP have expressed interest in renting the whole site, an idea which doesn’t sit well with residents in the area.
The state has drafted a plan, however, that would transfer the maintenance and development of the facility, yet maintain its public ownership.
The current plan involves the transfer of responsibility of the facility from buildings and grounds to state parks, which many believe would better be able to market the facility.
Mike Meizel, buildings and ground administrator, said Clear Creek doesn’t fit into any state department well. When the state gained ownership of the site, the department became its steward. His department has tried to support the camp, he said.
Meizel said recently the Legislature has begun to ponder the camp’s future. The camp has a budget around $200,000 a year. About 60 percent comes from users’ fees, which are $6 a night per youth plus meals, and 40 percent from the state.
“At this funding level, we can maintain the buildings, but we can’t improve them,” Meizel said. “It needs capital work like new sidewalks, and those repairs are hard to keep up with.
“We keep up fairly well with the general maintenance, but to get more groups and maybe higher paying groups, you have to put money into this. If we don’t, it will slowly deteriorate.
“This is one of the last remaining places the public has in the Sierra foothills. If you look 25 years in the future, how many places will the public have in the foothills?”
Estimates show that it could take between $500,000 and $3 million to bring the facility up to code. The camp consists of about 15 buildings including dormitories, a gym, cafeteria and classrooms. It is well used in the summer months by youth groups, Girl Scouts, religious groups and as a government retreat, Meizel said.
“There are a bunch of buildings and we manage buildings and property,” Meizel said. “We don’t have any particular expertise in marketing. State parks has more of a slant towards recreational use, and if they took a role over the next couple years they could roll in some sort of recreational plan. We’ve taken the premise it should probably stay as a youth camp.”
Other options facing the camp include bidding for someone to run it or selling the camp.
Mark Kimbrough, state parks regional manager, said he doesn’t want to see the facility get to the point where it has to be rented out just for the state to break even.
“The most important thing is that that facility is kept for outdoor experience for kids in Nevada,” Kimbrough said. “It would amaze you how many kids in this area haven’t had a true outdoor experience. That’s amazing considering how rural Nevada is.”
Kimbrough said the fact that state parks body has more experience working with the public and attracting large groups, they would benefit the facility.
He said the state is considering a partnership with Carson City to help upgrade Clear Creek. What that partnership would be is uncertain until the governor decides if the state parks section will take over the facility.
City supervisors will issue a proclamation Thursday supporting the state’s efforts to keep the park open for all users.
Supervisor Pete Livermore said many people have approached him in support of maintaining the facility. He said it would be a great boon to the city’s recreation programs for youth.
“This is one resource that sits within Carson country, and it’s a resource that doesn’t exist anywhere else on the eastern slope of the Sierra,” Livermore said. “It could go away if somebody doesn’t think of how to retain it in a better manner.”