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Special Districts Department

September 16, 2022 Update

July 15, 2022 Update

Big Bear Alpine Zoo in good hands during search for new curator

The county’s Big Bear Alpine Zoo will transition temporarily into the capable hands of Lead Animal Keeper Summer McElroy while the county conducts an exhaustive nationwide recruitment for a new curator to succeed Bob Cisneros, who announced on Monday that he will leave San Bernardino County within the month to take a position with a larger zoo in Salt Lake City. The Big Bear Valley Recreation and Park District will continue to support business operations for the zoo.

Summer has been with the zoo since 2004 and was promoted to Lead Animal Keeper in 2012. Along with providing incredible care to the zoo’s animals, Summer has managed numerous events at the zoo, including Boo at the Zoo, Bear Awareness, and Flashlight Safaris. As a lead keeper, she has cared for all of the animals at the zoo and helped to shape the zoo’s animal welfare plan and USDA readiness program. Summer’s knowledge of the zoo processes and her dedication to the animals is vital to keeping operations and programming on track.

“The community and I will miss Bob’s experience and passion,” said Third District County Supervisor Dawn Rowe. “But this will be an opportunity to build upon Bob’s legacy with leadership from a new curator who will add their experience and knowledge to everything we have accomplished and plan to achieve at the Big Bear Alpine Zoo.”

The biggest news on the zoo’s horizon will be the opening of the new, greatly enhanced zoo site just down the road from its current location. The county expects the prospect of a new zoo facility to be a major attraction to top curator candidates from across the country.

“We think many of the best zoo professionals throughout the United States will jump at the chance to open and operate a brand-new, state-of-the-art facility,” Supervisor Rowe said.

“The Big Bear Alpine Zoo provides a great experience and service for the people of Big Bear Lake and our visitors,” said Big Bear Lake City Manager Frank A. Rush Jr. “We are confident the county will recruit an experienced and visionary curator who will build upon the zoo’s success and make it an even greater asset to our beautiful community.”

The Big Bear Alpine Zoo, opened in 1959, is a rehabilitation facility offering injured, orphaned, and imprinted wild animals a safe haven, temporarily while they heal, or permanently, as they are unable to survive on their own in the wild.

The county is proud that 90 percent of all the animals brought to the zoo for rehabilitation are successfully released back into their native environment. Those that are either too injured to be released or have been imprinted by humans remain with the zoo on exhibit in an effort to educate and enrich zoo visitors.

The Big Bear Valley Recreation and Park District, a Special District of the County of San Bernardino, owns the zoo, the facilities, and the animals.

Looking for water saving tips?

waterandsanitationlogoThe County’s Special Districts Department Water and Sanitation Division has launched a new Facebook page for residents to learn more about water conservation.

Information about classes on water conservation, drought-tolerant landscaping and other special events will also be shared on the Facebook page.

Be sure to stop by and LIKE the Facebook page for more information.


Community garden opens in Big Bear City

community garden big bearGardeners are invited to begin planting fresh fruits and vegetables at the new drought-friendly Ranch Community Garden located at 2050 Erwin Ranch Road in Big Bear City.

The site offers 10 by 12 feet garden plots filled with screened dirt and a nearby water source.

Plots are $50 per year, paid annually to the Big Bear Valley Recreation and Park District, and are selling fast.  Gardeners are required to use only organic soil additives and planting materials and are encouraged to grow their favorite vegetables.

The garden was designed by Robbie Bos, Big Bear’s community garden guru, and built by the Park District maintenance staff, under Robbie’s watchful eye.  The property used to be a large grass soccer complex that was not drought-friendly, using 15,000 gallons of water per day. The community garden is expected to consume only 500 gallons per day with the added benefit of producing food.

“I am excited about this project because it supports the Countywide Vision of promoting healthy communities,” said Board of Supervisors Chairman James Ramos. “This community garden will provide an opportunity for ‘farm to table’ produce and will teach people the benefits of healthy eating and sustainable agriculture.”

Thirty gardening plots are ready for planting and more will be available in the near future. The weather is perfect for growing some vegetables. Gardeners can sign up for a plot by logging on to and registering. Gardeners may also call the Park District at (909) 866-9700 for plot assignment, or come in to the office located at Meadow Park, 41220 Park Avenue, Big Bear Lake, CA, 92315.

Coming soon:  18 more garden plots, including two ADA-compliant raised beds, composting bins, wash sink and counter beds, fruit trees, redwood privacy fencing, benches, decorative education beds and large crop fields for fun crops like pumpkins and melons.

The Park District is also seeking groups and students interested in gardening, tending to large crop fields and educational beds, as well as assisting people new to gardening.

Supervisors approve Big Bear Alpine Zoo relocation

zooThe Board of Supervisors voted Tuesday to move the Big Bear Alpine Zoo to a more spacious 5-acre site.

The zoo currently operates on a leased 2.5 acre site in the City of Big Bear Lake. The lease agreement at that site expired in February 2009 and operation of the facility has continued on a month-to-month basis. Following a lengthy planning process, the Board approved the relocation to 3/4 of a mile north of the existing facility at the intersection of Moonridge Road and Club View Road.

The relocation of the zoo will enhance the facility’s image and visibility, upgrade the animal care facilities, and provide an educational and entertaining environment for visitors.  About 160 animals and a total of 64 species will be relocated. The project also includes the demolition and remediation of the existing zoo property after the new facility is constructed.

Here is a link to plans for the new site: Plans for zoo relocation

Visit the website at

Golf tournament to benefit Big Bear Alpine Zoo snow leopard exhibit

snow leopard

In late spring, the Big Bear Alpine Zoo will be accepting two snow leopard sisters from a zoo in the state of Washington.  The two sisters are a bit over one year old, and are part of a captive breeding program aimed at propagating the endangered species.

The Friends of the Big Bear Alpine Zoo will be sponsoring its inaugural Golf Tournament to benefit the Snow Leopard exhibit on February 7 at the beautiful Classic  Club golf resort in Palm Desert.

The prime mission of the Big Bear Alpine Zoo is to rescue, rehabilitate, and release as many animals as possible that are brought to the facility, and does so with over 85 percent of the injured or orphaned wildlife it comes in contact with.  The zoo is actively working toward upgrading the exhibit which will likely be the permanent home for the two snow leopards as they cannot be released into the wild due to imprinting and permanent injuries to both animals including each losing an eye to disease.

For more information, click here: Golf Tournament

Employees celebrate the Countywide Vision in unique Christmas tree

visiontree4visiontree2 visiontree3

Gail Joe and her fellow employees in the County’s Special Districts Department decided to celebrate and promote the Countywide Vision during their department’s Christmas decorating contest this year.
She and Michael Wildes, Shar Perez, and Mona Montes – who all work in the Fiscal/Budget division – were the clear winners when they unveiled the tree complete with a “Vision” topper and cutout arrowheads portraying the County’s iconic seal.
The Countywide Vision statement is printed across paper ornaments adorning the tree. What a wonderful celebration of the Vision as the County heads into 2014!
The Countywide Vision states:
We envision a complete county that capitalizes on the diversity of its people, its geography, and its economy to create a broad range of choices for its residents in how they live, work, and play.
We envision a vibrant economy with a skilled workforce that attracts employers who seize the opportunities presented by the county’s unique advantages and provide the jobs that create countywide prosperity.
We envision a sustainable system of high‐quality education, community health, public safety, housing, retail, recreation, arts and culture, and infrastructure, in which development complements our natural resources and environment.
We envision a model community which is governed in an open and ethical manner, where great ideas are replicated and brought to scale, and all sectors work collaboratively to reach shared goals.
From our valleys, across our mountains, and into our deserts, we envision a county that is a destination for visitors and a home for anyone seeking a sense of community and the best life has to offer.

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