California state parks in jeopardy of closing

May 28, 2009 6:11:30 PM PDT
Shock and disbelief are among the reactions coming in response to the governor's plan to close more than two dozen state parks in the Bay Area.

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The cost cutting move would cost some people their weekend outings and it would cost others their livelihood.

Angel Island is a very popular destination for tourists and locals alike, 160,000 people visit each year. It is a natural wonder with beautiful views of the Bay, and it has buildings rich in local history. But if the governor gets his way, Angel Island State Park could be history as well.

The family owned Angel Island-Tiburon ferry has been carrying tourists, nature lovers and history buffs to and from the island for decades. It provides 90 percent of the McDonogh family's income and about $1 million dollars a year for the town, says ferry owner and chamber of commerce board member Maggie McDonogh.

"You know, on a busy weekend, we'll bring in anywhere from 800-1,000 people; and those 800-1,000 people park, they purchase sandwiches to go to the island, they might buy a sweatshirt, sunscreen, they might stay at the hotels, come back and have dinner," McDonogh said.

Angel Island is one of seven state parks in Marin County - and every one of them is on the governor's list for possible closure.

State Parks spokesperson Denita Rodriguez does not think any state park has ever been closed due to lack of funding, so she can only guess what a state park without the state might look like.

"There may be minimal staff just to maintain it so it doesn't get vandalized and there's still some public safety aspect to it, but essentially what we understand is that they could be entirely closed, completely off limits to the general public coming in," Rodriguez said.

That would apply at all the state parks on the hit list, including the 25 in the Bay Area like Pacifica Beach, Pigeon Point, Henry Coe State Park and Hearst Castle.

Mt. Tamalpais State Park may end up turning away its approximately 600,000 annual visitors, or at least try to turn them away.

"Not a good thing, I'm on there every day, and it's beautiful and I'll go up there even if it's closed, I guess," Mill Valley resident Fran Strachan said.

For some the loss cannot be measured in dollars and cents, it is more of a feeling, says one East Bay student just returned from Angel Island.

"I think it would be sad, disappointing because it's just a great," Gabriel Esler said.

Among parks officials said could be closed:

  • Henry W. Coe State Park, near Morgan Hill, the largest state park in Northern California
  • Candlestick Point State Recreation Area
  • Austin Creek State Recreation Area and Armstrong Redwoods State Reserve near Guerneville
  • Tomales Bay State Park in Inverness
  • Petaluma Adobe State Historic Park
  • Portola Redwoods State Park, near Cupertino
  • Benicia Capitol State Historic Park
  • Benicia State Recreation Area

State parks in the Bay Area

Marin County:

  • Angel Island
  • China Camp
  • Marconi Conference Center, historic park
  • Mount Tamalpais
  • Olompali, historic park
  • Samuel P. Taylor
  • Tomales Bay

Napa County:

  • Bale Grist Mill, historic park
  • Bothe-Napa Valley
  • Robert Louis Stevenson

San Francisco County:

  • Angel Island
  • Candlestick Point State Recreation Area

San Mateo County:

  • Año Nuevo, natural reserve
  • Bean Hollow, beach
  • Big Basin Redwoods
  • Burleigh H. Murray Ranch (park property)
  • Butano
  • Castle Rock
  • Gray Whale Cove, beach
  • Half Moon Bay, beach
  • Montara, beach
  • Pacifica, beach
  • Pescadero, beach
  • Pigeon Point Light Station, historic park
  • Point Montara Light Station (park property)
  • Pomponio, beach
  • Portola Redwoods
  • San Bruno Mountain
  • San Gregorio, beach
  • Thornton, beach

Santa Clara County:

  • Castle Rock
  • Henry W. Coe
  • Pacheco
  • Martial Cottle Project (park property)

Solano County:

  • Benicia, recreation area
  • Benicia Capitol, historic park

Sonoma County:

  • Annadel
  • Armstrong Redwoods, natural reserve
  • Austin Creek, recreation area
  • Bothe-Napa Valley
  • Fort Ross, historic park
  • Jack London, historic park
  • Kruse Rhododendron, natural reserve
  • Petaluma Adobe, historic park
  • Robert Louis Stevenson
  • Salt Point
  • Sonoma, historic park
  • Sonoma Coast
  • Sugarloaf Ridge

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