New Outdoor Education Space Proposed in Andrew Molera State Park
The Ventana Wildlife Society (VWS) is working with the State Coastal Conservancy California and State Parks to create a new group campground and support facilities for families to experience the beauty of Big Sur in Andrew Molera State Park, separate from the existing public campground. This proposed campground and accompanying facilities will be called Space for Meaningful Outdoor Recreation and Education or S’MORE. The project is in early development with work toward a coastal development permit, and including county and local review, underway. If approved, construction would likely occur in 2024/25.
Since 1992 VWS has had a concession contract with State Parks to operate their outdoor education programs in Andrew Molera State Park. Today within Andrew Molera Park, VWS operates a visitor center, a field office for their wildlife biologists working to restore the California condor to the wild and a bi-lingual outdoor education program for youth and families in central California. VWS engages over 2,000 youth annually from throughout Monterey County with targeted outreach to increase equitable access for historically underrepresented communities in areas including the Salinas Valley and North Monterey County region. These bi-lingual outdoor education programs focus on families who face transportation, economic, or accessibility barriers to accessing the coast, providing everything needed for a positive experience.
The S’MORE project site is located along the Big Sur River corridor and consists of grassland surrounded by oaks and sycamores. There are currently no formal tent sites or other campground amenities other than several fire rings, although the area has electricity and potable water. The proposed S’MORE site improvements will provide a picnic pavilion with a rustic kitchen, accessible parking, and a small amphitheater, and will enable VWS to expand programming and enhance experiences in nature for those most in need.