Vikingsholm, the 1920s Scandinavian-style “castle” on Lake Tahoe’s Emerald Bay, is undergoing extensive renovations thanks to two nonprofit foundations. It’s part of a larger movement by private groups to care for state parks the state can’t take care of.

State investigators have found unreported cases of an illicit program that let state parks employees trade leave time for cash and, despite extreme media and government scrutiny, “still has not done enough to prevent such practices from occurring,” according to an audit released Tuesday.
A California state parks employee punished last year for her role in an illegal buyout of employee vacation time has lost her appeal of that disciplinary action.
California officials on Monday launched a new program to analyze and overhaul the state parks system, to be led by a volunteer commission.
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PG&E and the nonprofit California State Parks Foundation helped organize the Earth Day cleanup at Beals Point at Folsom Lake State Recreation Area, which took on projects that the state lacks staff and funds to handle.
Malakoff Diggins State Historic Park near Nevada City will remain open to the public this summer, thanks to donated funds and a partnership agreement with the state.
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More than 60 years after Sutter's Fort became part of the California parks system, you would think the city and county of Sacramento would know who the owner is.
The state attorney general's office has launched a criminal investigation of California parks officials after the "hidden funds" case seemingly reached a dead end when state and local prosecutors did not pursue charges last month.

ABOUT THIS INVESTIGATION
The California Department of Parks and Recreation has been hit by scandal this summer. It began with news in July, first reported by The Sacramento Bee, of an unauthorized vacation buyout program offered to employees at agency headquarters, which resulted in payouts of more than $271,000. A week later, state officials revealed that the department had been sitting on $54 million in surplus money in two special funds, even as it moved to close 70 state parks because of supposed funding shortfalls. The long-serving department director, Ruth Coleman, resigned on July 19, and her chief deputy was fired. Numerous other employees have been demoted, and an attorney general's investigation is under way.
BEE REPORTERS ON THIS INVESTIGATION

Matt Weiser, a senior writer at The Sacramento Bee, has covered environmental issues, water resources and flood control for the newspaper since 2005. A graduate of Cal Poly, San Luis Obispo, he has worked as a reporter, editor and freelance writer in California since 1988. Contact him: mweiser@sacbee.com

Kevin Yamamura has worked at the Sacramento Bee since 1999. He has spent a decade in the Capitol Bureau and has covered the state budget for the last five years. He is a native of the Sacramento area and a graduate of Del Campo High School and Cornell University. Contact him: kyamamura@sacbee.com

Bee Capitol Bureau reporter Jon Ortiz has covered California's bureaucracy since the summer of 2008 when he launched The State Worker blog and weekly column. In 2003 he graduated from Sacramento State with a double major in political science and journalism and soon covered business for The Bee. Contact him: jortiz@sacbee.com

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