National Park Service rescues three Northern California state parks
In May 2011, the California State Parks Department announced the closure of 70 parks between September 2011 and July 2012 due to a $22 million budget shortfall. Many of the parks on that list are in Northern California. Today that list of 70 officially dropped to 67 parks, at least for the next year.
Thanks to the National Park Service three northern California parks will remain open:
- Samuel P. Taylor State Park, located within Golden Gate National Recreation Area in Marin County
- Tomales Bay State Park, located within both Point Reyes National Seashore and Golden Gate National Recreation Area in Marin County
- Del Norte Coast Redwoods State Park, located within Redwood National Park near Crescent City
According to this press release, these three state parks share legislative boundaries of national parks, where joint federal/state agreements have existed for years to share staff for resource protection and park operations. The National Park Service is stepping in to preserve and prevent harm to the national parks and has also come up with new ways to raise some additional funding, according to articles in the San Anselmo-Fairfax Patch and San Francisco Chronicle.
For now, this is a one-year trial and does not relieve the backlog of deferred park maintenance and the need for long-term infrastructure repairs.
National Park Service spokesperson Stephanie Burkhart said that her agency has been in talks with the State Parks Department since the park closures were announced in May. The National Park Service also continues to work with the state to sort out operating plans for a total of 16 parks that must stay open under federal law, as reported by a news outlets in May. Several of those parks are protected under the Land and Water Conservation Fund, which requires parks receiving funds to stay open to the public. Parks of concern include Castle Rock State Park in Santa Clara County, Twin Lakes State Beach in Santa Cruz, Portola Redwoods in San Mateo County, Candlestick Point near San Francisco, Limekiln in Big Sur and Salton Sea State Recreation Area in Southern California.
In other hopeful news, on Tuesday, Governor Jerry Brown signed Assembly Bill 42 (authored by Assemblyman Jared Huffman, D-San Rafael) to allow nonprofits to help run up to 20 state parks. But, who will sign the dotted line? Stay tuned.
This is the seventh article in a series on threats to California State Parks and the search for sustainable funding.