How a nonprofit in rural California revived a state park with 12,000 years of history

 In Community, Environment, Public Lands
Anderson Marsh State Historic Park

Anderson Marsh State Historic Park

Over the last couple of years, I have been digging up stories about inspiring and hard working people who are raising funds and volunteering their skills to keep state parks open and protected. People who once volunteered for state parks to lead educational programs are now holding benefit concerts and bake sales. They are negotiating contracts to run or support parks. They are engaging communities in new and deeper ways.

For I recently wrote a story that features a nonprofit, the Anderson Marsh Interpretive Association (AMIA), in rural Lake County, California, that rose up and rallied the community to revive a state park that represents 12,000 years of human history and protects a nature preserve teeming with wildlife.

Anderson Marsh State Historic Park on the southeast shores of Clear Lake had been on life support for many years due to chronic under-funding. Then, in 2011, the Department of Parks and Recreation slated the park for closure and it secured top billing on the infamous closure list.

Anderson Marsh Interpretive Association“We were #1 on the closure list. Alphabetically we were right there at the top,” said Henry Bornstein, a board member for Anderson Marsh Interpretive Association (AMIA).

In a twist of fate, the threat of closure gave the park a new lease on life.

The all-volunteer organization used the funding crisis to knock loose some funding from the state, win a foundation grant to make critical repairs, and put Anderson Marsh on the map.

Without the inspired and dedicated people like the volunteers with AMIA and its supporters, we could have lost a valuable part of California’s history. The comments to my story show how much people who live in the nearby communities value the park’s natural beauty and unique history.

“We are amazed by the riches of the park both archeological and natural and are deeply indebted to the AMIA board and all the volunteers who have worked so hard to keep the park open. Thanks to John Parker who got the ball rolling! We look forward to many more years of enjoying the park.” ~Sheila O’Hara

“Great to hear that Anderson Marsh is getting more attention! It’s a beautiful and remarkable area, well-deserving of additional resources.” ~Allen Franz

“This really is a unique place, duplicated nowhere else in California. Kayaking here is superb and the bird life here frankly is overwhelming for a novice birder, or for a seasoned birder for that matter … If people like quiet backwater boating and birdwatching, this place really cannot be topped.” ~Tom McFarling

To read the story, visit

Anderson Marsh State Historic Park

I want to thank the following individuals for their tireless dedication to state parks and for helping me with this story:

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