Saturday, February 26, 2005

End of an Idyll
snichols has learned sad news: the Van Vleck Memorial Park on the Cosumnes River outside Sacramento will close soon. snichols is almost unable to cope with how lamentable she finds this development.

For the lucky few, this private park, run by Reaganite ranchers, provided a little slice of eden for months on end every year. Sweet, unreserved camping with no frills on the banks of a warm, clear, deep, slow-moving stretch of river--the best freshwater swimming you could possibly have without even leaving the county. snichols' kids can't even imagine their summer without it.

They say they're closing it due to extreme vandalism, that they "have no choice." But that's unlikely to be true. The entire creation of the private park by the late Stan Van Vleck Sr. was to deter the many many trespassers on Van Vleck Ranch who were desperate to swim and camp in this incomparable unspoiled stretch along with amazing wildlife, deer, egrets, turtles, beaver and coyote.

More likely the "no choice" decision results from the greedy manoeverings of a clan of landrich heirs who know that their only big opportunity for cash comes from selling large portions of this stretch to be annexed to the huge and already encroaching luxury golf retirement housing immediately adjacent to the property.

Stan senior used to lament how he lost half the ranch to one of ex-wives and she cashed it out to kick Rancho Murieta off.

The entire park is apparently already zoned residential; has been since the environmentalists lost the battle to stop Rancho Murieta from building at all, so it's difficult for even the creative advocates to figure an angle to stop the despoilment of this gorgeous land.

And regardless, the idyll is over for snicholsfamily and all her free-loading friends.


David the Freeloader said...

As one of the aforementioned "freeloading friends," I join Sara in mourning the loss of this fabulous, fabulous place. I was looking forward to much more freeloading time at Van Vleck. Sara's story of how she and Bill managed to get access to it was worth the mosquito bites and constant nagging to go skinny dipping . . . without Bill.

I am now in the market for suggestions to fill my freeloading void. . .

Anonymous said...

Sadly you couldn't be more wrong. Those who run the ranch love the idea of having many people enjoy the beauty of the park. However, years of build-up resulted in the straw that finally broke the camels back last year. Kids were stealing keys and tresspassing - chopping up picnic tables for fires...exactly what Stan would have never wanted there. This is the right move to protect the beauty that is the park, sadly though it comes at the expense of others...its the old story of a few people that ruin the party for the rest.