Castle Rock To Remain Open

April 12, 2013—The Sempervirens Fund stepped in and threw Castle Rock State Park a lifeline last year when it made a deal with (read: sent money to) California State Parks to keep the park open. Now it looks like that lifeline will keep Castle Rock off the “closed” list until at least July 2014, and very likely until 2016. If Central Coast rock climbers are not already rejoicing, they will be soon: Castle Rock is the only rock climbing destination in the area, except for Pinnacles.

According to the agreement struck yesterday between Sempervirens and the Department of Parks and Recreation and reported by the Santa Cruz Sentinel, the state will match the sum Sempervirens put toward Castle Rock last year—$250,000—as part of an effort to make things right after last summer’s scandal. Tranches in successive years, which could keep the park open until 2016, would be part of the same arrangement: in effect, restitution.

Similar arrangements are going on elsewhere in the state with other nonprofits that stepped in to rescue the 70 parks that landed on a 2011 closure list following yet another budget crisis. The state is extending those arrangements for several years and picking up the tab for them. The hope is that by 2016 the state will be able to take back stewardship of those parks.

Quick refresher on the scandal: news broke last summer that rogue elements in the Department of Parks and Recreation had stuffed $54 million under the mattress. Legislators didn’t know about this money, about $20 million of which was in a general parks and recreation fund and $34 million of which was in an off-highway vehicle fund. When it was discovered, the public was outraged, especially since those 70 parks had been closed to save $22 million, less than half the total that had been squirreled away. The deal with Sempervirens Fund and other nonprofits is coming from that found pot of money.

Extra cool thing: when Sempervirens made the deal last year, it opened an additional 1,340 acres to the public that had previously been closed, including part of the San Lorenzo River headwaters. All that stays open with the new deal.

Not only that, but Sempervirens will continue with its ambitious plans to give the Castle Rock entrance a facelift and raise the park’s profile. At least part of the $4 million project should be in place by summer 2014.

Also read: How to Fix State Parks
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