Group Forms To Help North County Beaches

A volunteer group has jumped in to protect legendary state beaches in the North County that have been hit hard by state budget cuts.

"This is where we live while we're working here,” said Carlsbad State Beach Campground host Denis Kessler.

Kessler can’t complain about his office view, but these are still tough times for California state parks after more than $14 million was cut from this year’s budget.

"It's a tragedy that it has happened this way, but we want to keep this place running that people can enjoy it and we're going to do it,” said Kessler.

Campground host Bill Mahoney added, "In this district alone they lost over a $1 million in the budget and so the hours have been cut back, maintenance has been cut."

Kessler and Mahoney get paid to work as campground hosts, but they also care enough about the beaches that they’ve formed the Friends of Cardiff and Carlsbad State Beaches Volunteer Group. As an official nonprofit organization, members will raise money to help pay for park improvements.

"We needed to come together to supplement the funding that was coming from the state of California. There are 278 state parks and about 80 supporting associations like this that are non profits," said Mahoney.

The state parks department has urged groups like this to jump in during tough budget times. The Friends of Cardiff and Carlsbad State Beaches Volunteer Group is one of the first to form locally and have already raised $8,000 for renovations at Carlsbad’s Pelican Point.

"This will hopefully be an area where beachgoers can create memories here," said Mahoney.

At one Cardiff camp site, visitors can see remains of where a bluff collapsed during last month's heavy storms. It's just another example of a project the group hopes to help the state parks with.

Plans are in the works to raise money for more educational and arts programs, and the Friends of Cardiff and Carlsbad State Beaches said this is a chance for the community to get involved.