Saturday, October 1, 2011

Henry Coe gets a Reprieve

The specter of the 70 California park closures announced last year, scheduled for July 2012,  have been looming on the horizon like a flock of vultures circling a mortally wounded carcass ever since. On June 30th, newly elected governor Jerry Brown approved a budget deal that cuts an additional 22 million dollars from the already gutted state Department of Parks and Recreation. Most notable on the closure list for me was one of my favorite wild land preserves; the former ranch lands of Henry Coe State Park. But lately, there was a welcome glimmer of good news. Assembly bill 42 has passed! AB 42 is the bill that allows non-profit groups to help operate state parks that might otherwise be closed, and was signed and passed on September 6th. Not wasting any time, on September 9th, the Coe Park Preservation Fund, and the California Department of Parks and Recreation have signed an agreement that will allow for the park to stay open through at least 2015. The CPPF will provide funds to continue the staff salaries (3 full time employees), and the DPR will ensure that revenue generated by the park will be returned to the park to cover the costs of its operation and maintenance. This could only be possible because of the dedicated cadre of volunteers that are already doing most of the work it takes to keep the trails in shape, and staff the visitor’s center. So for now, the closure list is officially down 69.

What happens in the future will depend on the viability of funds that can be provided by the CPPF, and that the ranks of volunteers can stay strong. Perhaps at some point in time in the future, provided that better times are ahead for California, the parks and recreation budget can recover, but for now there are ways for individuals help. 1) Go on a hike or some other activity at Henry Coe. You will be charged a day use fee of $8.00 per vehicle if you park at headquarters. If you want to camp in a headquarters campsite, the fee is $20 per night. Senior rates are $7 day use parking and $18 for camping. 2) While you are there, patronize the gift shop at the headquarters complex. 3) Donate directly to CPPF. 4) Contact the Pine Ridge Association and ask about becoming a volunteer. 5) Have a great time at Coe and tell other people how awesome it is.


Ingrid said...

Thanks for this update on the bill and its effects on this park. From farther afield (in Seattle for a time), I'm doing what I can to lend my support to my home turf. Wish I could be boots-on-the-ground right now.

Waypoints said...

Good for you Ingrid. People who love Coe appreciate any support. Hope you get the chance to hike at Coe sometime soon.