A non-profit group is seeking to prevent closure this summer of Austin Creek State Recreation Area in Guerneville, Calif., and also restore services at several beaches and campgrounds along the Sonoma County coast.
As with other proposals to save state parks from closure, the plan submitted by Stewards of the Coast and Redwoods hinges on whether park visitors are willing to pay more to use facilities, the Santa Rosa Press-Democrat reported.
Specifically, the organization is proposing to charge visitors for parking at day-use areas on the coast and to expand the paid parking area at Armstrong Woods State Reserve.
“We’ll do what we can to appeal to peoples’ goodwill and interest in keeping parks open,” Michele Luna, executive director of the Stewards group, said Friday.
The state is planning to close 67 of California’s 278 parks by July 1 to save $11 million this fiscal year and $22 million in succeeding years. The list originally included 70 parks, but the National Park Service has agreed to operate three parks, including Tomales and Samuel P. Taylor state parks in Marin County.
In Sonoma County, state parks slated for closure include Annadel State Park in Santa Rosa, Jack London State Historic Park in Glen Ellen and Sugarloaf Ridge State Park east of Kenwood. A total of 16 parks on the North Coast are on the closure list.
The Stewards group is one of several non-profits that have submitted proposals to operate Sonoma County parks and keep them open. The Stewards plan is the most ambitious, as it encompasses not only 5,700-acre Austin Creek, but also Sonoma Coast State Park, which is not slated for closure but has experienced major service reductions.