In 1992 the State of California Department of Parks and Recreation Department entered into an agreement with the NPMC to manage the citrus groves that lie within the Citrus Park boundaries. To accomplish this task the NPMC retained Park Ranch Partnership to care for and maintain the groves. Some of the existing park groves were replanted with new citrus trees in the mid 1990s.
The NPMC has worked closely with the City of Riverside in obtaining grants for some of the development, but recently this approach to fundraising has proven unsuccessful. We have examined the alternatives and concluded that the best way to accrue future development monies was to replant around 140 acres of the existing groves. This replanting complied fully with the General Plan for the Park and ensured a healthy citrus presence in the Park for years to come.
The groves removed were between 80-100 years old and just did not produce fruit in quality and quantity that meets current market demand. The NPMC and Park Ranch had attempted to improve the state of the groves by eliminating furrow irrigation and installed a pressurized drip irrigation system. Even this effort produced less than desirable fruit.
If the Park were to remain a viable agricultural site for the foreseeable future, the old groves had to be removed and new citrus planted. This was so important for the future development of the Park that the NPMC was willing to devote a majority of its earnings to the replanting of the groves. The monies from the new citrus trees will ensure that the development of this most important historic park can continue and will produce the quality of park that was envisioned by the State when they decided to construct it. Because the groves are managed through the NPMC, any and all funds generated thereby are always used for the benefit of the Citrus Park. If the groves were under State Park’s management, the revenue could go to the State general fund and be used anywhere. The existence of the NPMC and its management of the citrus and Sunkist Center and Gift Shop ensures that any funds generated stay at the Citrus Park and are used for solely the Citrus Park benefit and development.
The NPMC worked out the details of the replanting program with the State Parks and the Park Ranch Partnership. The largest single cost of the replanting program was the removal of the existing citrus trees and the preparation of the land for new trees. There was an additional cost for new seedling trees with all these expenses paid by the NPMC. In June and July 2007, around 18,000 old trees were removed. In August 2007, the land was cross ripped and otherwise prepared for new groves. In October and November 2007, the irrigation system was modified as per the needs of the particular tree varieties.
In January 2008, new tree sites were irrigated in preparation for the fumigation of each tree site. Fumigation was done in February with donated fumigant from Amvac Chemical Corporation. These varieties of citrus were chosen both for their historical significance and with an eye towards their future marketability. In March, April and May 2008, 15 acres of lemons, 10 acres of grapefruit, 20 acres of tangos and 91 acres of navel oranges totaling 18,587 new trees were planted.
12,615 – Barnfield trees, a late maturing “Washington” navel variety
2,788 – Cara Cara trees, a pink flesh navel
1,384 – Star Ruby Grapefruit trees, a popular red fleshed seedless variety
1,800 – Lisbon lemon trees
In conclusion, the replanting program has positive aspects for all three parties that are involved in the future of the California Citrus State Historic Park. Park Ranch Partnership is involved in caring for new vibrant groves which will produce top quality fruit which in turn will prove to be much more marketable. The NPMC will secure the continued maintenance of the groves and be able to use the grove income for future development of the park’s historic portions. The State gains the refurbishment of the park and continues working with the NPMC on future park development.