Friends of China Camp reached an amended agreement in November with the state Department of Park and Recreation to fund China Camp State Park, Olompali State Historic Park and Tomales Bay State Park. The group, which has been running China Camp since 2012, will continue to do so while the state will maintain the other two parks.
The state will match previous donations and volunteer hours at $24.75 per hour, providing China Camp with about $1 million in funds with an expiration date of June 2014. China Camp also has access to an additional $363,000 in contingency funds composed of donations not limited by a time frame.
“With what have now, it looks like we should be good financially for the next one and a half to two years,” said Ed Lai, chairman of Friends of China Camp.
Additionally, funds generated from activities such as parking, camping and events at China Camp State Park, which in the past have gone into a general state parks budget, will now remain local.
“We are appreciative of the groups that have stepped up during this unusual time for state parks,” Danita Rodriguez, superintendent of state parks in Marin told the Independent Journal. “We are working very well together.”
China Camp, Olompali and Tomales Bay were among some 70 state parks listed for closure in the budget crisis of 2012. After months of fundraising, Friends of China Camp raised enough money and support to take over operations at the park. Just days after assuming responsibility, the group learned that the California Department of Parks and Recreation had stashed away more than $50 million that could be used for state parks. Then-assemblyman Jared Huffman froze the closures and developed a plan to match funds and volunteer hours to support local operating agreements, such as that at China Camp.
While the agreement is valid through mid-2015, Lai said he hopes that the Parks Forward Initiative will provide a blueprint for the future funding, maintenance and operation of California’s state parks.
“We’re not really in the business of operating parks as we’re mainly involved with the community,” he said. “So we’re looking forward to handing China Camp back, as we did for Tomales Bay and Olompali, some time in the future.”
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The 2011 state budget crisis hit California's state parks hard. Two years later, the Parks Forward Initiative has been looking to ensure the park system's future and on Oct. 2nd, asked for public input in San Rafael.
State Parks Crisis