Archived blog posts on the California State Parks crisis are tagged with “California State Parks.” Click on that link and follow “Next” at the end of each post.
By surprise, on June 3, 2013, California State Park officials announced the new “Parks Forward” Initiative, created to transform California’s beleaguered state parks system.
A volunteer panel, named on August 6, 2013, will lead the new initiative as the “Parks Forward Commission” to try to figure out how protect and run a system that lacks sustainable funding. The state’s “General Fund” support for parks has dropped by 37 percent in the past five years, and the parks department has a deferred maintenance backlog of more than $1.3 billion.
In 2011 and 2012, nonprofits and lawmakers fought to avert a major crisis that threatened to close 70 state parks in California. Communities cobbled together funds and unprecedented partnerships and operating agreements to keep park gates open and services running.
After a series of scandals that shook the parks department and public trust in summer 2012, Californians gained a two-year window, until the summer of 2014, to rebuild the park system.
The new Parks Forward Initiative follows a March 2013 report by the Little Hoover Commission titled, “Beyond Crisis: Recapturing Excellence in California’s State Park System.” The year-long studied found that the state’s parks department “can’t generate enough revenue on its own to replace continual reductions in taxpayer support,” the current centralized operating model is “obsolete,” the “staffing structure is ossified” and that “relationships have deteriorated with many of the park system’s most important partners and supporters.”
All of this follows legislation passed in the summer of 2012 to stave off the crisis. On September 25, 2012, California Governor Jerry Brown signed legislation to institute a two-year freeze on closing state parks and to dedicate funds to preserve parks in the short-term and spur innovation for long-term sustainability of the parks system. Assembly Bill 1478 guarantees that parks will stay open through June 2014 and appropriated $10 million to be used to match private funds that nonprofits raise for parks under donor and operating agreements.
Assembly Bill 1589 requires California State Parks to develop a prioritized action plan, including new revenue generating opportunities by July 1, 2013. AB 1589 also created the State Parks Protection Fund and requires the Franchise Tax Board to revise state tax return forms to provide individuals the opportunity to purchase a State Park Annual Pass or make a tax deductible donation to support parks, via their tax return.
Since the beginning of the parks crisis, I have tracked efforts by nonprofits and other agencies to keep parks open through donations, volunteerism and other arrangements. You will find a list of those parks in the table below.
What will happen to these new park partnerships in the future? Will California find a long-term, sustainable funding solution for the state parks? Archived blog posts on the crisis are tagged with “California State Parks.”
|#||Park with Partnership||Signed Agreement||Image|
|45||Anderson Marsh State Historic Park||D- Donor Agreement with Anderson Marsh Interpretive Association|
|44||Picacho State Recreation Area||Other - State Parks decided closing the park would put structures at risk.|
|43||Gray Whale Cove State Beach||D - San Mateo Coast Natural History Association Donor Agreement|
|42||China Camp State Park||ONP - Friends of China Camp now operate|
|41||Saddleback Butte State Park||D - Donor Agreement|
|40||Tule Elk State Natural Reserve||D – Bella Vista Water District|
|39||Fort Humboldt SHP||SR-Open with service reductions|
|38||Russian Gulch State Park||SR-Open with service reductions|
|37||Twin Lakes State Beach||SR-Open with service reductions|
|36||McConnell SRA||D-Local donor group|
|35||George J. Hatfield SRA||D-Local donor group|
|34||Austin Creek State Park||ONP–Stewards of Coast and Redwoods|
|33||Pio Pico State Historic Park||D — City of Whittier and Friends of Pio Pico|
|32||Annadel State Park||OG –Operating Agreement Sonoma Regional Parks|
|31||Portola Redwoods State Park||D - Donor Agreement with Save the Redwoods League, Portola and Castle Rock Foundation and Peninsula Open Space Trust|
|30||Turlock Lake SRA||C - Concession Agreement - American Land and Leisure sent notice of intent to award contract|
|29||Woodson Bridge SRA||C - Concession Agreement - American Land and Leisure sent notice of intent to award contract|
|28||Brannan Island SRA||C - Concession Agreement - American Land and Leisure sent notice of intent to award contract|
|27||Governor’s Mansion SHP||D - Donor Agreement|
|26||Limekiln State Park||C - Concession Agreement - Private park companies|
|25||Weaverville Joss House||D - Donor Agreement|
|24||Castle Rock State Park||D-Donor Agreement|
|23||Shasta State Historic Park||D-Donor Agreement|
|22||Santa Susana State Historic Park||D-Donor Agreement|
|21||Los Encinos State Historic Park||D-Donor Agreement|
|20||Sugarloaf Ridge State Park||ONP - Team Sugarloaf|
|19||Petaluma Adobe State Historic Park||D-Donor Agreement with Sonoma Petaluma State Historic Park Association|
|18||Palomar Mountain State Park||D-Donor Agreement - Friends of Palomar Mountain State Park|
|17||Grizzly Creek Redwoods State Park||OG – Humboldt County, with fund help from Save the Redwoods|
|16||Benicia Capitol State Historic Park||OG – Operating Agreement with government agency: City of Benicia and Benicia State Parks Association|
|15||Bale Grist Mill State Historic Park||OG - Operating Agreement with government agency: Napa Valley Regional Parks and Open Space District|
|14||Bothe-Napa Valley State Park||OG - Operating Agreement with government agency: Napa Valley Reg. Parks and Open Space District|
|13||Santa Cruz Mission State Historic Park||D-Donor Agreement - Friends of Santa Cruz State Parks|
|12||Jack London State Historic Park||ONP- Operating Agreement with a Nonprofit (AB 42): Nonprofit Valley of the Moon Interpretive Association to operate|
|11||Plumas-Eureka State Park||D-Plumas-Eureka Foundation donation agreement|
|10||Jug Handle State Natural Reserve||D- Olmsted donation and California State Parks Foundation matching funds|
|9||South Yuba River State Park||Other – County agreement on no parking signs|
|8||Tomales Bay State Park||U.S. National Park Service|
|7||Samuel P. Taylor State Park||U.S. National Park Service|
|6||Mono Lake Tufa State Natural Reserve||C - Concession Agreement: Bodie Foundation to collect parking fees|
|5||McGrath State Beach||Other – Donation/grants to fix failing sewer line and support parks operations|
|4||Henry W. Coe State Park||D – Donation from Coe Preservation Fund for California State Parks to operate|
|3||Del Norte Coast Redwoods State Park||U.S. National Park Service|
|2||Colusa-Sacramento River State Recreation Area||OG – Operating Agreement with government agency: City of Colusa to operate|
|1||Antelope Valley Indian Museum||D - Donation: California State Parks continues to operate|
- OG-Operating Agreement with government agency
- ONP-Operating Agreement with a Nonprofit (authorized by new 2011 law AB42)
- C-Concession Agreement
- Other- Varies