State Parks Good News Bad News

California had planned to close 70 state parks effective July 1st. A state committee chose the parks for closure based on the popularity or the iconic status of the park. When asked to share the documents to prove those findings, their response was they had thrown the data out.

Cottage garden at Jack London Park
Cottage garden at Jack London Park

Those of us in Sonoma County, might argue the point: what is not iconic or historic enough about Jack London, Fort Ross or Petaluma Adobe? Those in Sacramento might ask the same about the Governor’s Mansion or the Leland Stanford Mansion.

Petaluma Adobe
Petaluma Adobe

What was their plan to protect these closed parks from vandalism? Were they going to pack up and move all the treasures from London’s Beauty Ranch to the Stanford’s Mansion? Would the furniture and tools from General Vallejo’s Petaluma Adobe fit in the Governor’s Mansion?

Fort Ross State Historic Park
Fort Ross

It boggles the mind.

In response, many organizations have been working hard both to protest the closures and to raise money to keep them open. Please visit their sites listed below.

Sonoma County has a long and strong relationship to state parks. Eleven state parks are in the county ranging from the historic to much of the coast. Recently, a local non-profit won the first contract with the state to run a park.

Jack London Cottage
Jack London Cottage

Effective May 1, 2012, the Valley of the Moon Natural History Association assumed operational control of Jack London State Historic Park.

This organization has worked for years helping the park, including the restoration of the cottage where writer, Jack London, spent the last years of his life.

Jack London Office
Jack London Office

Valley of the Moon Natural History Association has hired an executive director to help manage the financial challenges. I don’t think it will become an amusement park, but fees will be higher. There will be more events and hours will continue to be curtailed.

So, good news, another park is saved. Bad news, all parks will cost more to visit.

The National Parks has taken over three California parks: Tomales Bay, Samuel P. Taylor, Del Norte Redwoods. Groups are ambitiously raising money to have the state keep more parks open. Creative solutions are happening all over. The state legislature is working on some solutions.

Salt Point State Park
Salt Point

But some parks in the middle of nowhere, like my favorite Salt Point on the Sonoma Coast, do not have the support to be saved. On July 1st access to many places along the coast ends or previously free parking lots will have pay machines. Then, people will park on the narrow Hwy 1 to save the fee. This creates another kind of park safety issue.

What’s the answer when you don’t have enough money?

Good news – some parks will stay open. Bad News – some parks will close.

It breaks my heart.

Sugarloaf State Park
Sugarloaf State Park

Lynn Millar

photos by Mike Millar

For more information or ways to help, please visit these sites.

Sonoma County Regional Parks has organized a foundation to save Annadel and Sugarloaf. Also, they’re helping Jack London Park.

Of course, Valley of the Moon Natural History Association could use your attention,  time and money.

Organizing  a statewide effort is the CA Parks Foundation.

Jack London was one of the founders of California Writers Club. The local Redwood Writers chapter has been raising money for the park on its website. The group will launch this year’s anthology, Vintage Voice: Call of the Wild at the park and donate some of the proceeds from the sales.

Can you make a choice?


More news all the time – the week of May 13th: State wants to charge for many access points to the Sonoma Coast, park or not. And Hendy Woods is saved.

For our take on some of these threatened parks go to Jack London, Sugarloaf, Annadel, Salt Point, Fort Ross, Petaluma Adobe, Armstrong Woods.

Armstrong Woods State Park
Armstrong Woods

Published by Lynn Millar

Walker, reader, writer, traveller - see About Walking

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