Attendance at Jack London and Sugarloaf has been higher in the past year than when the parks were being managed by the state, according to officials with the nonprofit groups that now run the sites. Both facilities also are on track to meet operating budgets this fiscal year.
The state’s plan to expand the number of beaches along the Sonoma Coast where visitors would be charged for parking faces its first crucial test in Santa Rosa today.
Sonoma County planners are recommending that the state be prevented from charging new day use fees at beaches up and down the coast on the grounds that doing so would limit public access and violate local and state laws.
A group of Fort Ross State Historic Park volunteers, Sonoma Coast Indians and government officials, including embattled Supervisor Efren Carrillo, arrived in Russia on Friday for a 14-day trip to trace the roots of early settlers on the North Coast. The trip is an outgrowth of the celebration this year of the 200th anniversary of the founding of Fort Ross by the Russians. The tour is not an official delegation, and the cost — about $4,000 per person — is being shouldered by the participants themselves, an organizer said.
Gov. Jerry Brown wanted to prentend it was no big deal. About the $54 million state parks surplus that went unreported for a dozen years, Brown joked Wednesday, ‘Hallelujah! More money it better than less money.’ Nice try. This particular dance is what we expect from a politician who hopes voters will approve a tax measure in November. But Brown knows the political damage is done. Anyone who worked to support parks in Sonoma County (or even wrote columns in support of local parks) knows the feeling. People feel disheartened. There is a sense of betrayal.
The state Senate on Thursday approved two bills authored by Sen. Noreen Evans that seek new strategies for keeping state parks open. SB974 would require more public involvement in decisions about closing and re-opening state parks. And SB1078 would encourage the state Department of Parks and Recreation to create an ‘innovation team’ that would take a more entrepreneurial approach to raising revenue.
Sugarloaf Ridge State Park, the 4,000-acre gem east of Kenwood, appears to have avoided the budget ax and will remain open past a July 1 deadline when dozens of parks statewide are slated to shut down. A coalition of Sonoma County nonprofit groups announced Wednesday that it has reached an agreement with California State Parks to take over operations at Sugarloaf and fully reopen the park to the public on June 1, in time for the summer vacation and camping season.
The proposed increase from $125 to $195 is happening not only at a time when many families’ disposable income is shrinking but also when many of us have been raising money to keep state parks open and have been trying to rebuild confidence with a skeptical public.
California State Parks is planning to increase the price of annual park passes by as much as $70 on May 1, another example of park users being asked to pay more to avoid more service reductions or parks being shut. The cost of an annual day use pass that is valid for all California parks will jump from $125 to $195. The Golden Poppy pass, which provides entrance to 98 parks, including several in Sonoma County, will go from $90 to $125.
State Parks Director Ruth Coleman said Friday she expects to approve Sonoma County’s bid to take over operations at Annadel State Park and spare the popular Santa Rosa park from closure this summer. Should that happen, people who now use the 5,000-acre park without paying fees may be in for a surprise. As part of its proposal to run the park, the county plans to install a day-use parking area on Channel Drive to prevent people from parking outside the gates and walking or biking in for free.