News about California State Parks
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This morning there was good news in my inbox: A list from the state park headquarters about how the parks will stay open, news that Salton Sea got an additional $5,000 for its efforts to stay open, and updates from the Mendocino parks organization MAPA.
If you didn’t know already – last year 70 parks were listed for closure due to budget cuts, including some of my very favorites. As of today, 69 of the 70 have either firmed up plans to continue operations, are in the process of doing so, or have been given “more time” by the state government. There is still a lot we don’t know about what “more time” will mean. The four in this last category were so recently decided on that they are still listed as having no plan on the list below. They could be closed soon, so I would prioritize trips to Mariposa and the California Mineral and Mining Museum, Benicia State Recreation Area (the largest of the four with over 400 protected acres and wetland), Gray Whale Cove near half Moon Bay, and to Santa Cruz area’s Zmudowski State Beach.
The one park that has already closed is located in the Mojave National Desert: Providence Mountains State Park. It was special because the visitor’s center was inside the historic homestead of the Mitchell Family, who settled the area and ran a resort in the 1930s. It was the only limestone cavern in the state park system, and regular tours took visitors inside to see the lighted stalactites and stalagmites. This spring the place was vandalized. Wires were taken, windows broken, the power generator stolen, and the lights that displayed the awesome natural formations were also taken. With the state already listing the park as a possible closure there were no funds to not only repair, but save the park for future visitors. Let’s take care of our parks!
Integrate the parks into your summer plans! Here are a few ways to enjoy the parks and help them stay open:
-Pay all posted fees to rangers and drop boxes. Many parks have had to let go of fee-takers in order to stay open and loosing that crucial revenue will keep them open. People aren’t accustomed to “paying for nature,” but think of it as paying a very small amount to help the area stay protected. Most of the prices we are used to paying don’t represent their real value – both things we pay too much for and things we’ve never paid much for, if anything. Let’s not let some psychology get in the way of the parks staying open.
-Go into the visitors centers and museums and enjoy them. Talk to the docents, many of whom are volunteers who know a lot about the area and the history. Good times all around. These centers are a major state asset in my opinion.
-Don’t liter. Duh, but still bears repeating. If it isn’t in the can it doesn’t count. Parks recycle too, so choose the right bin every time. It is such a small consideration considering how many steps it took to make the can, print on it, fill it with a concoction of ingredients from around the world, and ship it to you. And FYI, cigarette butts that look papery are actually made from inert plastics so if you see a butt, pick it up and trash it too!
-Go to new parks. The unexpected result of the park budget scare has been that I’ve been exploring more and more parks. It’s been fabulous. Some of the parks I’ve especially enjoyed this year are Salton Sea, Hendy Woods, Shasta, Bale Grist Mill, and Benicia Capital State Parks. My list is long for parks I’ll be exploring in the next couple months and is made up almost entirely of parks on this list of 70. Can’t wait!
-Donate to the cause. It’s hard not to sound preachy, but I don’t think it should be too much to consider spending less on new clothes (or something more in the want category than the need category) and directing that to a small contribution to your favorite park. Most of the parks on this list are still in dire need of donations. For instance, Salton Sea State Park may have to cut an already small staff of nine back to three people in addition to the additional $100,000 they need until Federal Funding can kick in and help maintain the park. Anyway, this is a case where $5 helps in a big way. Pick your favorite park from the list and show them some love, even a little bit of love goes a long way.
Here’s the latest news from Mendocino Parks:
- Standish-Hickey: MAPA and Team Standish are in negotiations with DPR about our proposal to operate Standish-Hickey SRA.
- Russian Gulch State Park: Will remain under Parks management.
- Westport-Union Landing: A proposal being considered by a local Native American tribe.
- Jug Handle: Open one more year! See announcement above.
- Point Cabrillo: On a month-by-month concession agreement.
- Greenwood Museum & Beach: News on this should be soon. MAPA has committed to operating the museum. The community and parks are working together to encourage partners to step forward to help keep this open.
- Hendy Woods: Back on Reserve America
- Manchester: Groups have stepped forward at Manchester and are working on how to keep the park open.
Here’s what was sent to me from the State Park Headquarters in Sacramento:
July 1, 2012 Status of Park Partners and Park Closures
Parks to remain accessible to public.
These are parks where agreements — Operating, Donor or Concession —will keep the park accessible to the public.
D-Donor Agreement – Operated by State Parks
OG-Operating Agreement, Gov’t – No day-to-day state services or operations
ONP-Operating Agreement, Non-profit (PRC 5080.42) No day-to-day state services or operations
C-Concession Agreement – State Parks retains oversight
- Antelope Valley Indian Museum D – Donation
- Colusa-Sacramento River Tate Recreation Area (SRA) OG – City of Colusa to operate
- Del Norte Coast Redwoods State Park ( SP) OG – NPS
- Henry W. Coe SP D – Donation from CPPF
- McGrath State Beach (SB) D- Donation/grants
- Mono Lake Tufa State Natural Res. (SRA) C-Bodie Foundation
- Samuel P. Taylor SP OG – NPS
- Tomales Bay SP OG – NPS
- South Yuba River SHP Other – County agreement
- Jug Handle SNR . D-Olmsted donation and Foundation matching $$
- Plumas-Eureka SP D-Plumas-Eureka Foundation
- Jack London SHP ONP- Non-profit Valley of the Moon Interpretive Association
- Santa Cruz Mission SHP D-Donor Agreement – Friends of Santa Cruz State Parks
- Bothe-Napa Valley SP OG- Napa Valley Reg. Parks and Open Space District
- Bale Grist Mill SHP OG-Napa Valley Reg. Parks and Open Space District
- Benicia Capitol SHP OG – City of Benicia and Benicia State Parks Association
- Grizzly Creek Redwoods SP OG – Humboldt County, with fund help from Save the Redwoods
- Sugarloaf Ridge SP OG-Team Sugarloaf
- Palomar Mountain SP D-Donor Agreement, Friends of Palomar State Park
- Petaluma Adobe SHP D-Donor Agreement – Sonoma- Petaluma State Historic Park Association
- Los Encinos SHP D- Los Encinos Task Force with donor/gift support
- Santa Susana SHP D-Santa Susana Mountain Park Association
- Weaverville Joss House SHP D- Weaverville Joss House Association
- Castle Rock SP D-Sempervirens Fund, Portola and Castle Rock Foundations
- Shasta SHP D-Shasta Historical Society and town of Shasta Interpretive Association
- Turlock Lake SRA** C – American Land and Leisure
- Woodson Bridge SRA** C – American Land and Leisure
- Brannan Island SRA ** C – American Land and Leisure
- Governor’s Mansion SHP D-Co-op Assoc. and donation
- Limekiln SP C-Private park companies
- Portola Redwoods SP D-Save the Redwoods League, Peninsula Open Space Trust, and Portola-Castle Rock Foundation
- Annadel SP OG –Sonoma Regional Parks
- Pio Pico SHP D — City of Whittier and Friends of Pio Pico
- Austin Creek SP ONP–Stewards of Coast and Redwoods
- George J. Hatfield SRA D-Local donor group
- McConnell SRA D-Local donor group
- Twin Lakes SB Open with service reductions
- Russian Gulch SP Open with service reductions
- Fort Humboldt SHP Open with service reductions
- Tule Elk State Natural Reserve D – Bella Vista Water District
Parks with Partnership Agreements Possible
These are the parks where partnership negotiations are in progress and agreements may still be possible. These parks will stay open beyond July 1 if good-faith negotiations between a park partner and State Parks continue. If a park is closed and an agreement becomes possible, the park could be reopened.
1. Anderson Marsh SP Anderson Marsh Interpretive Association
2. Bidwell Mansion SHP Save the Mansion effort
3. Point Cabrillo Light Station SHP Concession Agreement
4. Railtown 1897 SHP D-Co-op and Tuolumne Co.
5. Hendy Woods SP D-New non-profit group/SRL
6. Fort Tejon SHP D-Fort Tejon Historical Assoc.
7. Leland Stanford Mansion SHP Interagency funding agreement with Legislature
8. Morro Strand SB ONP-Three non-profits submitting proposals.
9. Olompali SHP ONP-Non-profit, MSPA
10. Standish-Hickey SRA D- In negotiations
11. Castle Crags SP D- In negotiations
12. Salton Sea State Recreation Area D-Agreement being explored.
13. Benbow Lake SRA C-Bid for Concession
14. China Camp SP ONP-MSPA
15. Candlestick Point SRA Calif. State Parks Foundation exploring options
16. Westport Union Landing SP D-Being explored
17. Garrapata SP Local agreement
18. Greenwood SB Donor agreement
19. Malakoff Diggings SHP Donor agreement
20. Manchester SP Operating agreement
21. Moss Landing SB Local agreement
22. Picacho SRA Donor agreement
23. Saddleback Butte SP Donor agreement
24. San Pasqual Battlefield SHP Operating agreement
25. William B. Ida Adobe SHP Donor agreement
Parks with no partnership, donor or concession agreements
These are parks with no partnership, donor or concession agreement. These parks will have all State Parks’ services and operations terminated. However, if interest develops in the future, that interest will be pursued to see if the park can be reopened.
1. Benicia SRA
2. California Mining and Mineral Museum
3. Gray Whale Cove SB
4. Providence Mountains SRA
5. Zmudowski SB
Park Disposition Totals as of this date
Parks to remain accessible 40
Parks still in negotiations 25
Parks with no options 5
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