Biennial Park Closure List Released

Soberanes Point – Garrapata State Park

Threatening to close parks has become something of a standard tool for getting the public engaged in the budget process in California and this year is obviously no exception.

The list of 70 (down from 220 last time around) State Parks designated for reductions in services (beginning next fall) and, possibly, eventual closing (but not before July 2012) released (for dramatic effect, we assume) on Friday the 13th, makes for sad, and at times somewhat mystifying, reading. It does seem they’ve been careful this time to avoid listing places, like the new Fort Ord Dunes State Park, which might be reclaimed by the feds in the event of closure. The large number of historic parks on the list is interesting, considering that “historic significance” was supposed to be one of the criteria weighing in favor of keeping a park open. Southern California beaches (none being closed) are clearly a higher priority than Central and Northern California beaches (8 on the list, including Moss Landing State Beach and Zmudowski State Beach, here on Monterey Bay), and the San Francisco Bay Area, especially the North Bay, is taking the hardest hit of any part of the state.

Besides the beaches, other parks in our area slated for closure include the highly popular Henry Coe, with its extensive backcountry; Castle Rock and Portola Redwoods, in the Santa Cruz Mountains; Limekiln, on the South Coast; and Garrapata, stretching along the ocean just south of Carmel. Further afield, we’re sorry to see great parks like Castle Crags, near Mt. Shasta; the Tufa Reserve, at Mono Lake; and Hendy Woods, one of the least well known and most beautiful stands of old growth redwood in existence, on the list. If you haven’t visited those places, you might want to plan a trip during the next 12 months!

There have been statements made that closure will not mean locking out the public (just closing restrooms, parking lots, and things like that) – which makes sense, since the patrolling necessary to keep the public out of popular parks, like Garrapata and Coe, would seem likely to eat up any savings gained from closure.  But what, exactly, is the savings to be gained from “closing” an undeveloped park, like Garrapata? Garrapata is accessed on foot from Highway One and has no parking lots. Its only amenities, as far as we know, are its trails (which, from their sorry state, appear to be primarily maintained by users) and a couple of Porta-Potties. Does “closure” there really boil down to saving the pitiful few bucks it takes to maintain the Porta-Pots? Or do they actually intend to just walk away and stop patrolling the park? That would certainly get the community (worried about criminality, fires, etc.) up in arms!

But now that we think about it, we’re not sure we’ve ever seen a State Park employee on the trails at Garrapata – and we go there a lot. Would cessation of whatever State Park patrols currently take place at Garrapata significantly change the current situation?

If there aren’t any breakthroughs in the budget process, maybe we’ll find out.

Most of the “complete lists” circulating around don’t actually include every park slated for closure, so we’ve done some digging around and are proud to be able to present the really, genuinely complete list …

Read it and weep:

Anderson Marsh State Historic Park

Annadel State Park

Antelope Valley Indian Museum

Austin Creek State Recreation Area

Bale Grist Mill State Historic Park

Benbow Lake State Recreation Area

Benicia Capitol State Historic Park

Benicia State Recreation Area

Bidwell Mansion State Historic Park

Bothe-Napa Valley State Park

Brannan Island State Recreation Area

California Mining & Mineral Museum

Candlestick Point State Recreation Area

Castle Crags State Park

Castle Rock State Park

China Camp State Park

Colusa-Sacramento River State Recreation Area

Del Norte Coast Redwoods State Park

Fort Humboldt State Historic Park

Fort Tejon State Historic Park

Garrapata State Park

George J. Hatfield State Recreation Area

Governor’s Mansion State Historic Park

Gray Whale Cove State Beach

Greenwood State Beach

Grizzly Creek Redwoods State Park

Hendy Woods State Park

Henry W. Coe State Park

Jack London State Historic Park

Jug Handle State Natural Reserve

Leland Stanford Mansion State Historic Park

Limekiln State Park

Los Encinos State Historic Park

Malakoff Diggins State Historic Park

Manchester State Park

McConnell State Recreation Area

McGrath State Beach

Mono Lake Tufa State Natural Reserve

Morro Strand State Beach

Moss Landing State Beach

Olompali State Park

Palomar Mountain State Park

Petaluma Adobe State Historic Park

Picacho State Recreation Area

Pio Pico State Historic Park

Plumas-Eureka State Park

Point Cabrillo Light Station

Portola Redwoods State Park

Providence Mountains State Recreation Area

Railtown 1897 State Historic Park

Russian Gulch State Park

Saddleback Butte State Park

Salton Sea State Recreation Area

Samuel P. Taylor

San Pasqual Battlefield State Historic Park

Santa Cruz Mission State Historic Park

Santa Susana Pass State Historic Park

Shasta State Historic Park

South Yuba River State Park

Standish-Hickey State Recreation Area

Sugarloaf Ridge State Park

Tomales Bay State Park

Tule Elk State Natural Reserve

Turlock Lake State Recreation Area

Twin Lakes State Beach

Weaverville Joss House State Historic Park

Westport-Union Landing State Beach

William B. Ide Adobe State Historic Park

Woodson Bridge State Recreation Are

Zmudowski State Beach

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One Response to Biennial Park Closure List Released

  1. Sterling says:


    Just another example of why not all land needs to be under federal or state control. As Xasáuan correctly notes, the savings are likely to be nominal or negative (if No-Trespassing-On-Your-Property patrols are effectuated.

    In the late 60s, we charged two bucks to use the road to and parking lot at Pfeiffer Beach. We maintained both and took away the trash. Every night we patrolled the beach and “asked” would-be campers to put out their campfires and leave.It worked perfectly and we even made a modest profit.Big Sur Nation community-run parks could do the same and support the schools, library, health clinic and fire brigade for example at the same time.

    Limekiln functioned quite well as a “park” in the private domain. Perhaps the property should be deeded back to the Big Sur Nation community who could then lease it out to an ethical operator.

    The Boronda property, where I once lived. belonged for decades to Mrs Hathaway, then was sold as part of a larger parcel to the USFS who let the historic house fall apart and then burn in the 2008 fire. Now there are indications the Feds want to dispose of it – which includes the lower part of the Separation Hill trail – as “surplus” property.

    A Fourth example is the Overstrom homestead property, which unfortunately has now gone into state hands where it will be forgotten at the upper end of Julia Pfeiffer Burns SP. It would have made a lovely Tribal Ground and memorial to Big Sur Nation citizens from an earlier, more blessed and more human era when local participation in a society had much more value.

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