Four California state parks get a reprieve

Kevin Forrester of the California Department of Parks and Recreation looks for signs of vandalism inside Mitchell Caverns at the closed Providence Mountains State Recreation Area.
(Irfan Khan / Los Angeles Times)

SACRAMENTO — California officials said Friday that only one park will be closed come Sunday, revising plans announced a day earlier to cease operations at five parks.

Providence Mountains State Recreation Area, in a remote part of San Bernardino County, has been shut down since earlier this year and will remain so.

But the revised plan means four sites expected to close on Sunday — Benicia State Recreation Area, the California Mining and Mineral Museum, Gray Whale Cove State Beach and Zmudowski State Beach — will keep operating for the time being.

“We had the time over the last 24 hours to review operations and were able to determine they could stay open in the very short term, likely a few weeks,” said Richard Stapler, a spokesman for the California Natural Resources Agency.

Stapler said lawmakers created some breathing room by appropriating an additional $10 million in the budget signed by Gov. Jerry Brown on Wednesday.

The state may still be forced to cease operations at the four parks if officials aren’t able to find a source of money to keep them running.

Officials originally planned to shut down 70 state parks on July 1. But that number dwindled as nonprofits, donors, private companies or other government agencies stepped forward to help keep them open.

Talks are still underway to find funding for 25 parks that are being kept open as negotiations continue. The state has already finalized financing agreements for 40 parks. However, in some cases those deals are for as little as a year.