Jim and Carolyn Moen had a vision for preserving their family property on the San Joaquin River. The land, which they shared with a variety of wildlife, had been in the family for decades. On weekends, they opened the property for anglers to enjoy the large fishing ponds.

Mr. and Mrs. Moen reached out to the River Parkway Trust and the Trust for Public Land to help them realize their family’s dream of preserving the property’s fish ponds and riparian woodlands forever. The two land trusts worked in partnership with the San Joaquin River Conservancy to fund and complete the transaction to include the property as part of the Parkway. The Conservancy purchased the property with funding made possible by voters’ approval of the Safe Neighborhood Parks, Clean Water, Clean Air and Coastal Protection Bond Fund (Prop 12) and Safe Drinking Water, Clean Water, Watershed Protection, and Flood Protection Bond Fund (Proposition 13) of 2000.

A celebration event was held in January 2006. During the program Mr. Moen shared that he and his family “consider ourselves among the dreamers as far as this property is concerned.” His wife shared that making the property part of the Parkway is “a wonderful thing.”

Today, the River Parkway Trust provides public access for fishing, wildlife watching, hiking, and picnicking at Sycamore Island from February through Veterans Day. During the spring, every sixth-grade student in the Madera Unified School District will take a field trip to Sycamore Island. Students will learn about water quality through macroinvertebrate study, participate in a photo scavenger hunt, and try canoeing on the large pond called Old Muddy.

Sycamore Island is part of the greater Madera River West complex, which includes 600 acres of open space lands west of Highway 41 in Madera County. The Madera County Board of Supervisors approved a master plan for Madera River West in 2012. The River Parkway Trust hopes to implement elements of the plan in the years to come.

The 2018 season of public access at Sycamore Island will end this Monday, November 12. You can visit the property this weekend during the regular operating hours of 6:00 am and 5:30 pm and look forward to opening day on Friday, February 1, 2019.