When California officials announced the closure of 70 state parks earlier this year, some communities wouldn't accept the reality their local park would be gated in the summer of 2012. Those around Mono Lake Tufa State Natural Reserve gathered 4,000 letters and petition signatures and delivered them to Governor Jerry Brown and other state leaders.
Looks like someone was listening.
On Thursday state park officials announced that Mono Lake was taken off the closure list , which was made when the department's budget was slashed by millions. To keep the reserve afloat, a "modest" parking fee will be instituted at the highly visited west shore's Old Marina, according to the Mono Lake Committee.
"This is the best Christmas present we could ever wish for. The state park is critical to keeping Mono Lake protected for future generations," said Sally Gaines, the committee's board chair. "It's great news that creative solutions will keep it open."
[Update: The parking lot will be managed by The Bodie Foundation, a nonprofit that the nearby Bodie State Historic Park and Grover Hot Springs State Park.]
Mono Lake is an ancient 70-square-mile saline lake set aside the eastern slopes of the Sierra-Nevada Mountains near Mammoth Mountain and Yosemite National Park's Tioga Pass. Its unique tufa towers made from limestone rise out of the water, which is home to not fish, but instead brine shrimp, alkali flies and migratory birds.
In October, the National Park Service spared three parks on the list by undertaking responsibility for three within their borders: Tomales Bay State Park within Point Reyes National Seashore and Golden Gate National Recreation Area; Samual P. Taylor State Park inside Golden Gate National Recreation Area; and Del Norte Coast Redwoods State Park within Redwood National Park.