New vision, as park becomes urbanized

Chad Lundquist/Nevada Appeal Cardelli Ditch runs the length of the park.

Chad Lundquist/Nevada Appeal Cardelli Ditch runs the length of the park.

A once out-of-the-way state park that has seen a town grow around it is about to get a new mission.

Dayton State Park, along with others in Nevada's state park system, is getting a new master plan, and Jenny Scanland, park and recreation program manager for the Nevada Division of State Parks, would like to get the public's opinion.

"It's a whole new world for this park," she said, pointing out development creeping along the park's southern edge. "It used to be a park on the outside of a town, but now the town is growing around it, and it's becoming more of an urban park."

State parks officials will hold a workshop from 4-7 p.m. June 21 at the Dayton Community Center to find out what services and activities the public would like to have there.

"I want people to shoot for the moon," she said. "At the meeting, they shouldn't limit their ideas. We need to take stock of what we have so we know what we can provide."

Scanland said she would like to see the park, originally designated to protect the Rock Point Mill site where stamp mills crushed Comstock ore, will become more frequently utilized than it is now. Vandalism is still a problem at the mill, she said, and the park will have to find a way to protect the site if it is to become more frequently visited by the public.

"I've heard people say, 'I didn't know there was a state park there' and we want to change that," she said.

Scanland said a 1988 survey showed people wanted interpretive trails, group overnight facilities and an equestrian area in a state park.

Fast forward to another survey in 2002, and the trails were still popular, along with facilities for family gatherings while camping was less popular.

Scanland pointed out the ubiquitous sound of traffic on Highway 50 as one thing that changes the experience of park visitors.

"Who wants to camp in the middle of a city?" she asked. "We have to have a master plan for the 21st century."

Now, Dayton State Park offers trails to explore, along with the historic mill site, a small campground, currently closed to repair flood damage, and a pavilion area for group events.

Scanland said she could envision the 150-acre park someday providing a group camping area for use by the Boy Scouts of America and similar groups or families, an amphitheater and an equestrian center north of the mill.

The most-used trail at the Dayton State Park is the Pony Express Trail, which passes through the park along the route of Old Highway 50, and still accommodates equestrian and non-motorized use.

Of the developed sections, the portion of the trail connecting Genoa, Dayton Valley and Fort Churchill State Historic Park is a popular route.

"It hooks up two historic places, both on the river and on the ground," she said.

Scanland would also include a proposed "Gold Discovery" trail, which would utilize existing trails and roads to Gold Hill and Virginia City.

"Camping is not as much in demand (at Dayton State Park)," she said. "Dayton is kind of a central hub. If we can provide group camping, parking and interconnected trail opportunities, it would benefit the whole area."

Scanland said the last master plan for Dayton State Park was written 16 years ago.

There is no funding commitment yet, she said, but added it would be easier to push for funding if more people participate in the workshops.

Our budgets are decreasing," she said. "There is always room for concessionaires, but the key is public/private partnerships with business and the county to pay for things."

• Contact reporter Karen Woodmansee at or 882-2111, ext. 351.


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