Current Status of Park Closures

Over the last few weeks the parks community has been successful in giving some parks on the closure list temporary reprieve. As the LA Times reported yesterday, there are a few parks on the closure list that have found reprieve from one source or another, be it private donors, foundations or nonprofits. Read the full story here.

By our own accounts, the following are parks that we at CSPF understand have received temporary reprieves from the July 1 closure.

  1. Castle Rock State Park: The Sempervirens Fund will donate funds to keep this park open for one year.
  2. Colusa-Sacramento River State Recreation Area: This park is currently being operated by the City of Colusa.
  3. Del Norte Coast Redwoods State Park: The National Park Service is currently operating portions of the state park under a yearly agreement.
  4. Henry Coe State Park: This park is being kept open for three years under a donor agreement facilitated by the Coe Park Preservation Fund.
  5. Jug Handle State Natural Reserve: CSPF and Olmsted Park Fund recently announced a donor agreement which will keep the park open for one year.
  6. Los Encinos State Historic Park: A private donor will help keep this park open for one year.
  7. McGrath State Beach: Funding was secured to fix the sewage line in the park. Once the repairs are completed, this park should come off of the closure list altogether.
  8. Mono Lake Tufa State Natural Reserve: The Bodie Foundation has signed a concession contract which will allow it to collect fees at the park, which will be used to keep the park open.
  9. Petaluma Adobe State Park: The Sonoma/Petaluma State Historic Parks Association has entered into a donor agreement to keep the park open through June 2013.
  10. Plumas-Eureka: Plumas-Eureka State Park Association has entered into a donor agreement to help cover operational costs and keep this park open for the next two years.
  11. Samuel P Taylor: The National Park Service is using a new $2.00 fee at Muir Woods to cover the basic operation of both this park and Tomales Bay State Park until June 30, 2013.
  12. Santa Susana SHP: CSPF has signed a donor agreement that will give this park a reprieve from closure for one year.
  13. South Yuba River State Park: A Revenue Generation Parking Plan has been proposed and agreed to by DPR that is expected to provide revenue critical to keeping the park open.
  14. Tomales Bay: The National Park Service is using a new $2.00 fee at Muir Woods to cover the basic operation of both this park and Samuel P Taylor State Park until June 30, 2013

Excitingly, CSPF was able to help out with a couple of the reprieves.  In case you missed it:

  • Jug Handle State Nature Reserve — On Friday, March 16, we announced in conjunction with the Olmsted Park Fund (OPF) an agreement with the California Department of Parks and Recreation (DPR) to give Jug Handle State Natural Reserve a reprieve from closure for one year. Together we will provide a combined $19,000 to the state to allow the park to be kept open with minimal services, but accessible to the public.  Read more.
  • Santa Susana Pass State Historic Park — On Thursday, March 22, we made a donation to the California Department of Parks and Recreation (DPR) to give Santa Susana Pass State Historic Park a reprieve from closure for one year. We will provide $21,000 to the state to allow the park to be kept open to the public, albeit with minimal staff and services. Read more.

As you can see, with a few exceptions, these are all temporary reprieves. While it is important for us all to celebrate these reprieves, we must not lose sight of the fact that California’s 279 state parks need long-term funding solutions to ensure that they stay open and protected- and permanently saved from closure.

Is your local park in discussions to find a reprieve? Let us know in the comments.

A picture is worth … a visit to a park

Long-time State Park Photo Contestant and park supporter Cynthia Leeder has been snapping photos of state parks for years (check out her photos here). She recently learned that her photos of her favorite state park, Henry Coe, have had more of an impact than she realized. She shared her inspiring story with CSPF:

The picture that launched a thousand ships. © Cynthia Leeder

“I recently attended a public meeting held by Sheila Golden, the former park interpreter for Henry Coe State Park.  Sheila is now attending graduate school at UC Davis and is putting together a master plan for Henry Coe State Park for her thesis.  This plan is required by the state before anything can be done to the park in terms of improvements for interpretation and the like.

As part of that effort Sheila developed a survey for park visitors asking how they heard of the park and why they came to the park and things like that.  I found out at the meeting that some respondents indicated they first heard of Henry Coe and came to the park because of the California State Parks Foundation calendar where a picture of mine was published.

Another gem from Henry Coe. © Cynthia Leeder

I love Henry Coe with all my heart.  It really is a special park, often rough scrabble and broken down, in need of everything, but Henry Coe makes me feel good inside when I am there.  I am not a religious person but the feeling of being up on the Ponderosa Loop towards sunset with the sound of a breeze blowing through the stands of Ponderosa Pines is nothing less than spiritual and renewing.  You have to experience it.  There is nothing like it and fits perfectly with the inscription Sada Coe had placed on the Coe Monument, ‘May these quiet hills bring peace to the souls of those who are seeking.’

To survive for the long term, the park needs more visitors and if my pictures can help promote Henry Coe and bring people to the park, then I feel like I have done something!”

Cynthia has been giving more to state parks than just her photographs, and it seems she is getting some great fulfillment in return.

“I am starting my third year as uniformed volunteer at Henry Coe.  I have already achieved Senior Volunteer status.  I often work the visitor center meeting the park visitors, suggesting hikes, and helping the backpackers plan their trips into the park.  I am loving it!”  

Thank you to Cynthia for your dedication to state parks!

Do you take photos in state parks, too? Upload them to our free photo contest or our Facebook page; we’d love to see them!

Park Heroes are Mobilizing

As Tony Barboza of the Los Angeles Times reported earlier this week, “the stewards of campgrounds, beaches, monuments, redwood forests and nature preserves and across California are finding out closing a park is easier said than done.”

But despite the complications, folks across the state are proactively mobilizing to keep the state parks nearest and dearest to them open and protected. Here are some highlights of solutions forming across California:

Henry W. Coe
Success story!  Last Friday, state parks officials reached an agreement with nonprofit group Coe Park Preservation Fund to keep Henry W. Coe State Park open for at least three more years. The nonprofit will provide $300,000 a year for the next three years to pay for half the operating costs of the park.

Read more: San Jose Mercury News

Santa Cruz Mission
The nonprofit Friends of Santa Cruz State Parks is working to ensure the state doesn’t close Santa Cruz Mission State Historic Park, the oldest building in Santa Cruz. The group is looking to start a community fundraiser this fall to keep the mission open.

Read more: KION/KCBA

Palomar Mountain
Folks are working to form a “Friends of Palomar Mountain State Park” association, which will be a non-profit charitable organization intended to support the Park financially for its day in, day out programs and general enhancement. If you’d like to be part of the new Friends of Palomar Mountain State Park, visit palomarsp.org/friends.

Read more: San Diego Hiker blog

Benicia
CSPF President Elizabeth Goldstein is meeting tonight with an influential group in Benicia to explore solutions to keep Benicia Capitol State Historic Park and Benicia State Recreation Area open. The public meeting begins at 7 p.m. in the Dona Benicia Room at the Benicia Public Library, 150 East L St.

Read more: Vallejo Times Herald

Nonprofits Everywhere
And, of course, more nonprofits will be able to get involved in these kinds of solutions once AB 42 is signed into law! Amazing groups like Mendocino Area Parks Association, Stewards of the Coast and Redwoods, Friends of Pio Pico, and Save McGrath State Beach are doing great things up and down the state already, so AB 42 will hopefully be a great catalyst for their work.

Even so, saving these parks won’t be an easy task. Hear what California State Parks Director Ruth Coleman and CSPF President Elizabeth Goldstein have to say about the nuts and bolts of closing a state park on yesterday’s KPCC Air Talk.

This list of heroes is by no means exhaustive! Who is mobilizing in your community to help state parks? What is your organization doing? Voice your solutions here.