State parks harder to close with Stewardship Act
A bill that will make it more difficult to close state parks has been signed by Gov. Jerry Brown.
The California Park Stewardship Act of 2012, authored by Assemblyman Jared Huffman, D-San Rafael, and co-authored by Assemblyman Dan Logue, R-Loma Rica, would require the Parks Department to find alternatives before closing a park, and disclose its reasons when a park is closed.
The law also limits the number of parks that can be closed through 2016 to 25 without specific legislative action.
Additionally, the law allows one park to share funds with others, and gives donors a tax deduction on funds that exceed a normal annual pass to the state parks.
Californians can also buy a special DMV license plate.
There are several state parks in Logue's Assembly district that have been closed or were targeted for closure since the plan to shut them down was announced in 2009.
Among those are Bidwell in Chico, which could benefit from the new law.
It will have no real impact on the Colusa-Sacramento River State Recreation Area, which is operated by the city of Colusa.
Similarly, the Woodson Bridge State Recreation Area in Corning has a private vendor operating it.
It is still uncertain what impact the reported $54 million discovered in the state Parks Department will have on the situation.
The director of the department resigned and a deputy was fired in July following the discovery of the funds, which the department reportedly sat on for at least 12 years.
Officials estimated the scheme cost taxpayers more than $271,000.
State park officials said then that the first was to determine where all the money belongs. Calls to the department on Tuesday were not returned.
Some funds, such as those in the Off-Highway Vehicle program, are specifically earmarked for that purpose.
The vast majority of the dollars, however, are not restricted.
Officials said it would be up to the Legislature to determine where that money goes, and whether it even stays in the Parks Department.
On the surface, the scandal would have no impact on Colusa or Corning parks, although both could benefit if the funds were spread out across the park system.