State Parks Funding

Editorial: School kids show the state why parks should be open to all

Slowly but surely, nonprofits and local communities are exploring what they can do to keep open the 70 state parks slated to close on July 1.

So far, 10 parks have been removed from the closure list. The latest is a gem in our region, the South Yuba River State Park, with a lovely canyon and covered bridge, near Grass Valley.

Elementary school students at the public Grass Valley Charter School were among those who lobbied local leaders and helped the South Yuba River Citizens League collect 10,000 petition signatures. The Nevada County Board of Supervisors, the Nevada City and Grass Valley city councils and Truckee Town Council signed a letter to the governor.

State Parks officials announced Wednesday that the park will remain open, with new parking fees at entry kiosks and self-serve devices at park entry sites. Nevada County agreed to "no parking" signs along the public road adjacent to the park, so visitors will use the park's lot and pay the fee.

The kids and the community still are trying get neighboring Malakoff Diggins State Historic Park off the closure list. That's the site of the largest hydraulic mining operation in California in the 1870s and early 1880s.

Other parks have gotten off the closure list with timely donations and active nonprofits.

For example, an anonymous donor offered to match every dollar up to $35,000 raised by the Sonoma/Petaluma State Historic Parks Association, to keep the the Petaluma Adobe State Park open four days a week through June 2013.

The Coe Park Preservation Fund, primarily funded by a single donor, will donate funds for two full-time rangers, a maintenance worker and two seasonal aides, to keep Henry Coe State Park open through June 2015.

The Bodie Foundation will collect fees to keep the Mono Lake Tufa State Natural Reserve open.

Multiple partners have joined to keep Railtown 1897 State Historic Park open four to five days a week; an agreement is close.

In Sacramento, with the help of a $75,000 pledge from Raley's, a fledgling Governor's Mansion Foundation is boosting fundraising and volunteerism, hoping to keep that state historic park open three to four days a week. The Stanford Mansion is exploring options for working with the State Capitol Museum.

State Parks is holding workshops across the state this month for those interested in forming partnerships to keep parks open. One is scheduled at the West Sacramento City Hall on Feb. 28.

These partnerships may not provide permanent solutions for keeping state parks open seven days a week all year long, but they are a good start.

Sixty more parks to go, and 20 weeks to come up with solutions before they close.

This is the list of parks that should be saved under agreements that have been set up and the type of arrangement in the works for each, according to the California Department of Parks and Recreation.

1. Antelope Valley Indian Museum - Donor

2. Colusa-Sacramento River State Recreation Area - City of Colusa

operating agreement

3. Del Norte Coast Redwoods State Park - National Parks Service

4. Samuel P. Taylor State Park - National Parks Service

5. Tomales Bay State Park - National Parks Service

6. Henry W. Coe State Park - Donor

7. McGrath State Beach - Donors and grants

8. Mono Lake Tufa State Natural Reserve - Concession agreement

9. Point Cabrillo Light Station State Historic Park - Operating agreement (unspecified)

10 South Yuba River SP - New parking fees

Here is the list of the original 70 parks on the chopping block.

Anderson Marsh SHP

Annadel SP

Antelope Valley Indian Museum

Austin Creek SRA

Bale Grist Mill SHP

Benbow Lake SRA

Benicia Capitol SHP

Benicia SRA

Bidwell Mansion SHP

Bothe-Napa Valley SP

Brannan Island SRA

Cal. Mining & Mineral Museum

Candlestick Point SRA

Castle Crags SP

Castle Rock SP

China Camp SP

Colusa-Sacramento River SRA

Del Norte Coast Redwoods SP

Fort Humboldt SHP

Fort Tejon SHP

Garrapata SP

George J. Hatfield SRA

Governor's Mansion SHP

Gray Whale Cove SB

Greenwood SB

Grizzly Creek Redwoods SP

Hendy Woods SP

Henry W. Coe SP

Jack London SHP

Jug Handle SNR

Leland Stanford Mansion SHP

Limekiln SP

Los Encinos SHP

Malakoff Diggins SHP

Manchester SP

McConnell SRA

McGrath SB

Mono Lake Tufa SNR

Morro Strand SB

Moss Landing SB

Olompali SHP

Palomar Mountain SP

Petaluma Adobe SHP

Picacho SRA

Pio Pico SHP

Plumas-Eureka SP

Point Cabrillo Light Station

Portola Redwoods SP

Providence Mountains SRA

Railtown 1897 SHP

Russian Gulch SP

Saddleback Butte SP

Salton Sea SRA

Samuel P. Taylor SP

San Pasqual Battlefield SHP

Santa Cruz Mission SHP

Santa Susana Pass SHP

Shasta SHP

South Yuba River SP

Standish-Hickey SRA

Sugarloaf Ridge SP

Tomales Bay SP

Tule Elk SNR

Turlock Lake SRA

Twin Lakes SB

Weaverville Joss House SHP

Westport-Union Landing SB

William B. Ide Adobe SHP

Woodson Bridge SRA

Zmudowski SB