More California state parks saved from closure

Los Angeles Times Daily Travel & Deal blogger

One by one, some of the 70 California state parks slated to close in July are quietly being spared in the short term as nonprofits and other agencies raise their hands to take over their operation.

In April, five more parks, including writer Jack London’s home and the remaining building of the Santa Cruz Mission, circa 1791, came off the list of closures announced last year as part of a $22-million cost-cutting measure by the California Department of Parks and Recreation.

The five join 11 others, including popular Mono Lake Tufa State Natural Reserve near the eastern edge of Yosemite National Park and McGrath State Beach in Ventura, which earlier had been allowed to remain open after finding partners or extra funding.

Nineteen more parks are in the middle of negotiating partnership agreements, according to the agency. Talks are afoot to keep open Santa Susana Pass State Historic Park in Simi Valley, Pio Pico State Historic Park in Whittier, Los Encinos State Historic Park in Encino and Palomar Mountain State Park.

“The deadline is July 1, but some may close before or after,” spokesman Dennis Weber said. “But that doesn’t mean we’re going to turn away someone with an agreement in August.”

The most recent parks to come off the closure list include:

--Santa Cruz Mission State Historic Park in downtown Santa Cruz, which will be operated by the nonprofit Friends of Santa Cruz State Park. The organization signed a three-year contract to run the site.

--Jack London State Historic Park north of Sonoma where the writer lived until his death in 1916 is now operated by Valley of the Moon Natural History Assn. The organization signed a five-year deal to keep the park open with staffing and visitor services a minimum of 36 hours a week.

Other parks recently spared from closure include Bale Grist Mill State Historic Park, the site of a water-fed mill, and Bothe-Napa Valley State Park, both near Napa, and the South Yuba River State Park near Bridgeport. (A $5 parking fee went into effect Tuesday).