If you’ve visited the Monarch Butterfly Grove during the peak season, you’ve probably seen it: a white trailer displaying orange and black wings and books on garden layouts for the visitors checking out hordes of butterflies that flock to Pismo Beach each winter.
That trailer acts as a base of operations for volunteer docents who lead daily talks, as well as acting as storage for their equipment and a gift shop for Monarch-themed souvenirs.
Now the park needs a new one, and it needs the public’s help to buy it.
Central Coast State Parks Association Executive Director Laura Albers said the previous trailer — which had been bought second-hand and converted to use at the park — was on its last legs during the most recent season.
“Maintenance said they could Band-Aid it through last season, but it’s lived its life, done its service. Now it’s time for it to retire,” Albers said.
Rather than get another second-hand trailer to convert, Albers said this year, she asked the park’s volunteers what their perfect setup would look like, and resolved to find a way to fulfill their wishes.
The group landed on a custom design from Swoop Homes, an Oceano manufacturer of tiny homes that all have a signature “swooped” (or curved) roof.
The new structure is larger, more durable and customized to the volunteers’ exact needs, Albers said.
“Every single inch of the trailer was designed by the ones who actually use the trailer,” she said. “We’ve never been able to do that before. It’s like being able to design your office.”
But custom trailers don’t come cheap: This one has a price tag of approximately $45,000, which includes the higher cost of heavy duty solar panels to provide electricity in the often cloudy area.
To pay for it, the group launched a fundraiser this summer. To date, they’ve raised $34,698 — but they still need a little more than $10,000 before the campaign ends Aug. 16.
Albers said they’ve received about 100 donations so far, ranging from $8 to $5,000.
“I’m so grateful for anything, whether it’s $5,000 or that $8 check,” she said. “These are all people who are saying they love this park and the Grove.”
Albers said the new trailer is expected to be ready on Sept. 18, just in time for the start of the season in October. Once it opens, the trailer will have a plaque honoring the people who donated.
Donations can be made in three ways:
- Mail your check to: CCSPA, P.O. Box 445, San Luis Obispo, CA 93406.
- Bring your donation to one of their nature stores: Museum of Natural History, 20 State Park Road, Morro Bay; Spooner Ranch House, Montana de Oro State Park; Oceano Dunes District Visitor Center, 555 Pier Avenue, Oceano.
- Online at their website: centralcoastparks.org.
“It’s really important to have that trailer,” Albers said. “So please, please, if you can, donate — and then come down and see it when we open.”