Banning took a step to cement a working relationship with the Riverside County Regional Park and Open-Space District in reference to programs at the historic Gilman Ranch and Wagon Museum on Wilson Street.
In a working relationship that kicked off in 2018 with the city’s sponsoring of its 5k run and health fair hosted at Gilman Ranch, and later that year jointly hosted a holiday event with the nonprofit group of volunteers known as the Gilman Ranch Hands, Banning’s city council approved a memorandum of intent between the two entities.
According to the city, in June 2020 the county’s open-space and park district and the city entered into formal discussions as to how to approach working together “to maximize the potential of the site so that it serves as a resource for both agencies.”
An official two-year memorandum of intent, passed as part of the city council’s routine consent calendar at its Feb. 9 meeting, serves as an official declaration of the partnership’s desire to “explore, develop and implement a five-year strategic plan.”
Banning’s MOI stipulates that there will be maximized access to Gilman Ranch for its citizens; increased use of the ranch for events co-sponsored by the county and Banning’s recreation department; complement the county’s and the city’s visions for utilization of the site; explore public-private partnerships that could benefit experiences and usage of the ranch; and establishment of a five-year strategic plan to meet those goals.
The MOI does not commit the county or the city to make financial investments, nor does it bind either entity to any kind of contract.
Last November the Riverside County Regional Park and Open-Space District, which operates the ranch, met with a dozen participants to gather ideas that would be incorporated into a Statewide Park Program grant that, if received, could be used towards projects and programs at Gilman Ranch.
Suggestions included fitness trails and additional picnic areas, Frisbee golf courses and interpretive signage along walking trails.
The property was formerly a significant stagecoach stop along the historic Bradshaw Trail, and wagon route between California and Arizona, initially for gold miners.
According to the county’s website, at its peak the Gilman Ranch consisted of 500 acres. During the 1880s, the Gilman family gradually shifted from cattle raising to dry farming barley, wheat and oats, and crops such as raisins, grapes, figs, prunes, apricots, peaches, almonds and olives.
Although the Gilman Ranch was a successful ranching and agricultural enterprise, it is best known in connection with the last great western manhunt of Willie Boy, a Paiute Indian who wished to marry a young woman named Carlotta against her father’s wishes. She and her family were camped at the Gilman Ranch working on the fruit harvest when Willie Boy killed her father and escaped with her, according to history outlined by the county.
Tony Pierrucci, historic preservation officer with the county’s Bureau of Parks & Resources, credits Banning’s Recreation Department Manager Ralph Wright, and Riverside County Parks General Manager Kyla Brown, with working with him on devising the memorandum of intent.
“We've partnered with Banning Parks and Rec for several years now for our Wild West and Christmas at the Ranch events at Gilman,” Pierrucci said in a statement. “This MOI formally expresses the desire of both our agencies to seek additional ways we can partner moving forward,” including grant opportunities, to “better utilize the Gilman Ranch and Wagon Museum. Both agencies have something the other could use: Banning Parks and Rec has a phenomenal connection to the local community and great recreation staff and volunteers; Riverside County Parks has this fantastic resource in the Gilman Ranch and Wagon Museum, and a staff eager to collaborate. The MOI provides a formal framework for future collaboration.”
Staff Writer David James Heiss may be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org , and messages may be left at (951) 849-4586 x114.