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.
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.
State officials intend to re-open Sugarloaf Ridge State Park on a limited basis Friday, a surprise given concerns that the park could remain closed indefinitely because of budget cuts. The 4,000-acre park east of Kenwood was shut down in early December for the first time in its 48-year history.
A state oversight board on Wednesday approved a controversial proposal that could lead to for-profit companies operating in 11 state parks, including six on the North Coast. Critics fear the action could pave the way for these parks to be taken over by commercial interests or undermine nonprofits that are planning to submit their own bids to run the parks. Do you think this is a good idea or not?
The state is seeking authority to attract bids from concessionaires to potentially operate 11 parks, including six on the North Coast, a move that critics fear is a step toward privatizing these public places. Sugarloaf Ridge State Park east of Kenwood would be bundled with five Central Valley parks to make them more financially attractive to bidders, under a proposal by state parks officials.
Sugarloaf Ridge State Park shut down entirely this week for the winter, a first in the park’s 47-year history and another troubling sign of the crisis enveloping California’s beleaguered parks system. Parks officials said they are uncertain whether Sugarloaf can be reopened in the spring, or whether budget problems will force them to keep the popular 4,000-acre park east of Kenwood shut.
California’s state parks chief came to Santa Rosa Friday and defended the closing of 70 parks statewide, including Annadel State Park. Ruth Coleman explained in an outdoor gathering at Spring Lake Park, just a short distance from Annadel, that a $22 million budget shortfall makes it impossible to keep open all the state’s 278 parks.
Over the past 30 years, the state has systematically neglected and starved its park system, former ranger Greg Hayes says. Now, Gov. Jerry Brown is proposing to close 70 parks to save $23 million. Instead of auctioning off parks to the highest bidder, Hayes wants lawmakers to find the money somewhere else in the budget to keep the parks open.
California State Parks today announced a plan to close up to 70 of its 278 parks due to budget cuts, including Annadel State Park in Santa Rosa. In addition to Annadel, other North Coast area parks include Sugarloaf Ridge, Jack London, Austin Creek, Petaluma Adobe, Bothe-Napa Valley, Bale Grist Mill, Tomales Bay and Olompali to name a few.