State parks officials Wednesday signed an agreement to use matching funds to ensure Henry Coe State Park near Gilroy stays open for two years.
The agreement is the first by the California Department of Parks and Recreation under the terms of AB 1478. The state law, adopted in September in the wake of a scandal in the department, allocates $10 million for matching grants to keep parks open.
The money comes from $54 million in surplus funds that former parks headquarters officials were found to have hidden for years, even as state budget cuts led to park closures.
Henry Coe, at more than 87,000 acres, is the largest state park in Northern California. The agreement was signed with the Coe Park Preservation Fund, a local group that raised $279,000, enough to keep the park open for one year.
It turned the money over to the state earlier this year. Then, when scandal enveloped the department, some of the group's members said they wanted a refund.
Now, state parks will match the $279,000 to ensure the park stays open through 2014. The department also commits to find more money to keep the park open through 2016.
The agreement means state parks employees will remain on the job to keep Henry Coe open for the public.