State Parks Funding

Indian Grinding Rock State Historic Park, Amador County

Maintenance backlog: $1.6 million

Just getting money for maintenance and repairs is not the only obstacle facing state parks. Getting improvements installed is another matter – especially at smaller parks, with lower public profiles.

At Indian Grinding Rock park, northeast of Jackson, two brand-new, brightly colored interpretive panels sit unused in the basement of Chaw'se Regional Indian Museum. The series of panels (more are in storage elsewhere) was completed months ago but cannot be installed on the historic park grounds until an archaeologist visits and designates the proper digging spots.

Charlotte Bertrand, a temporary state parks employee working at the museum, said volunteers offered to pay for the cement – yet the project languishes.

"We're just a little ol' park," said Bertrand, who worries that Indian Grinding Rock is sometimes overlooked.

One day earlier this month, the park was visited by a group of home-schooled children from Sacramento and Elk Grove.

"These parks are such a learning tool – for everybody," said Cathy Anderson, whose 8-year-old son was enthralled by the museum's hands-on mortar and pestle exhibit, illustrating the Indians' way of grinding acorns. "They are a real gift."

The home-schooling group has planned a series of state parks visits in Northern California throughout the year.

"With budget cuts, though," she said, "we don't know what's going to happen."

– Marjie Lundstrom