By BRETT WILKISON
THE PRESS DEMOCRAT
A one-year agreement with the state allowing Sonoma County to take over operations
of Annadel State Park, the popular 5,000-acre reserve in east Santa Rosa, was approved by supervisors Tuesday.
The deal would keep Annadel open past a July 1 deadline, when dozens of parks statewide are slated to close for budget reasons.
Board chairwoman Shirlee Zane criticized that state move as “penny-wise and pound-foolish,” citing the potential loss of tourism dollars tied to park visitation and the risk of vandalism and other types of misuse that could result from park closures.
Five state parks in Sonoma County were originally on the closure list. Agreements are in place to keep three of the parks open — Sugarloaf Ridge State Park, Jack London State Historic Park and Petaluma Adobe State Historic Park.
Efforts are also under way to keep open Austin Creek State Recreation Area in Guerneville.
The county deal to operate Annadel requires approval from the California Department of Parks and Recreation, a go-ahead that county officials said they expect in the next two weeks.
The annual county cost to operate Annadel is projected at $277,737. That amount will be covered largely by donations, including a $100,000 donation from financier and philanthropist Henry Trione and other contributions from park supporters. State parks is to make a one-time payment of $50,000 and also has committed to retaining a supervising park ranger at Annadel, an in-kind value of $100,000.
The county’s regional parks agency will manage Annadel as part of its adjacent Spring Lake Park operation.
While backing the deal, which would expire next June, county supervisors voiced concerns that the state would seek to unload Annadel on the county on a permanent basis.
“It’s concerning that year after year we’re going to have to be relying on the community to step up,” said Supervisor David Rabbitt.
Regional Parks Director Caryl Hart, who also is chairwoman of the California Parks and Recreation Commission, said she would update the board on the state parks’ intentions later this year. With about three dozen parks now slated for closure statewide and a proposed $22 million budget reduction for state parks in the coming fiscal year, Hart said she had never seen the state agency in greater disarray.
“We’ll know more in the next six months,” Hart said.