More State Parks Spared from Closure, Foundation Announces

The Sea and Desert Interpretive Association recived a grant to help keep the Salton Sea State Recreation Area open for one year | Photo: °Florian/Flickr/Creative Commons License

Things are happening. People are coming together. Donations are being made. Ever since California announced it was closing 70 state parks this summer to help close its budget deficit, groups have working to shrink that number. Today, it shrunk by a lot.

The California State Parks Foundation announced that several state parks are expected to be spared for one year from closing on July 1. Close to $330,000 -- funded by he S.D. Bechtel, Jr. Foundation and the Thomas J. Long Foundation -- will be split up into 13 grants to fund smaller non-profits to operate individual parks.

For example, the Cuyamaca Rancho State Park Interpretive Association will receive funds to keep Palomar Mountain State Park in San Diego County open for at least one year. "This ... rounds out our first year's mission-critical funding, which not only closes Palomar's projected operating deficit, but also gives the park staying power in the face of unforeseen costs or underperforming revenue," said association Chairman Rick Barclay. "This takes us out of survival mode for the first year and frees us up to focus on things that will actually move Palomar forward."

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But just because a non-profit has received a grant doesn't mean the park is temporarily saved. Of the 15 state parks announced by the foundation today, only three -- Jack London, Bothe-Napa Valley, and Bale Grist Mill -- already have signed agreements with the state to stay open beyond July 1, according to a document provided by California State Parks. Temporary reprieve for the other 12, including Palomar, are contingent on agreements being finalized.

"We stand ready to make changes as soon as they arrive," said State Parks Spokesperson Roy Stearns about the finalized list of parks temporarily spared from closure. "We have a few that are close and we shall update the list when finalized." The list currently indicates that 16 of the 70 state parks slated for closure will stay open (see right info box). 19 are listed as in negotiations (another eight may also be in negotiations, according to this reporter's calculations).

The grants from the foundation are contingent on the state and non-profits finalizing an agreement, according to Jerry Emory, a foundation spokesperson. Another round of funding is expected to be announced in June.

The 15 state parks/non profits that received grants are Anderson Marsh State Historic Park (Anderson Marsh Interpretive Association), Austin Creek State Recreation Area (Stewards of the Coast and Redwoods), Bale Grist Mill State Historic Park and Bothe-Napa Valley State Park (Napa County Regional Parks and Open Space District), Castle Crags State Park (Innovations Housing), China Camp State Park (Marin State Parks Association for Friends of China Camp), Greenwood State Beach and Elk Visitor Center (Department of Parks and Recreation), Hendy Woods State Park (Hendy Woods Community), Jack London State Historic Park (Valley of the Moon Natural History Association), McConnell State Recreation Area and George J. Hatfield State Recreation Area (East Merced Resource Conservation District), Palomar Mountain State Park (Cuyamaca Rancho State Park Interpretive Association for Friends of Palomar), Salton Sea State Recreation Area (Sea and Desert Interpretive Association), Sugarloaf Ridge State Park (Sonoma Ecology Center), and William B. Ide Adobe State Historic Park (Ide Adobe Interpretive Association).

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