Good friends

New group hopes to keep park issues on front burner

Randy Abbott and Susan Mason are members of Friends of Bidwell Park, which is sponsoring two half-day volunteer efforts to help the park on Make a Difference Day, Oct. 25. See the group’s Web site, <a href="http://www.friendsofbidwellpark.org/">www.friendsofbidwellpark.org</a>, for details.

Randy Abbott and Susan Mason are members of Friends of Bidwell Park, which is sponsoring two half-day volunteer efforts to help the park on Make a Difference Day, Oct. 25. See the group’s Web site, www.friendsofbidwellpark.org, for details.

Photo By Tom Angel

“Bidwell Park being the crown jewel of Chico, they really need to polish it more often,” says Susan Mason, president of the advocacy and watchdog group Friends of Bidwell Park, which formed last March and aims to educate the public about important park issues.

Mason moved to Chico just four years ago, having visited here several times and enjoyed Bidwell Park. She began volunteering for monthly trail maintenance in the park and attending Park Commission meetings. Although inexperienced with city politics, she noticed that it took a big issue for people to show up and voice their opinions about the park—and many times, people found out only after an issue had been discussed and a decision was made.

“We basically wanted to make it easier for people and organizations who wanted to be involved in the park,” she says. When asked what concerns her most about the future, Mason explains that she would like some long-term vision or plan for the different parts of the park, as well as a better guideline to review its own elements. She’d also like to see a better fuel management plan and increase overall knowledge concerning exactly what wildlife is in the park. She also thinks the park could get a lot more grant money if just one person were focused on such endeavors, considering all the elements are in place: park, trails, watershed issues, endangered species.

Mason says many people who use the park are probably not aware of the invasive plants that are replacing plants that used to dominate in the park, as well as erosion factors from increased trail use. Both issues are slowly but surely changing the ecology and experience of the park. “Those are things people don’t usually see right off,” she notes.

Fellow member Randy Abbott is concerned about what he perceives as lack of attention from the city. He likens it to the forbearance shown toward illegal mother-in-law units.

“As long as nobody complains, chances are the city will not enforce the codes,” he says. “That’s the way I see the stewardship of the park—unless people get involved, codes and standards are neglected by the city. This is not about restricting people’s access to the park … but people shouldn’t be allowed to just do what they want without respect. What do we need [for stewardship to improve], a Halloween riot!?”

Readers can check out the Friends’ informative Web site at www.friendsofbidwellpark.org. A long list of other local volunteer and park information groups is also there under “links.”