California Parks Look to KOA, Others for Rescue

January 25, 2012 by   - () Comments Off on California Parks Look to KOA, Others for Rescue

Residents and business owners in northern Mendocino, Calif., met at Leggett Valley School  Jan. 16 to find ways to keep Standish-Hickey State Recreation Area open under community oversight.

A core group calling itself “Team Standish” began getting together in December to research and plan for local management of the park, which is slated to close June 30 of this year as part of one billion dollars in cuts to the California Department of Parks and Recreation, the Redwood Times reported.

“Standish-Hickey has a place in our personal dreams,” Piercy Fire Protection District Commissioner Jeff Hedin told the 30 people assembled in the Leggett Valley School library. “We need to find a way for our dreams to unite us to save this park from closure.”

Of 278 state parks and recreation areas in California, 70 were originally slated for closure as part of the state’s deficit-reduction plan, Leggett businessperson Jill Palmer explained, but the numbers kept getting smaller as the legislature struggled with this unpopular move.

Currently, 14 parks are on the closure list. Eight of them, including Standish-Hickey SRA, are in Mendocino County.

Last year, Standish-Hickey took in $157,000 in revenues but the cost of running the park came to $204,000, Palmer said. Palmer estimated that overall the state would save only $20,000 to $40,000 a year if the loss of tax revenue caused by the impact to local businesses and property values is included in the equation

Last year the state legislature passed AB42, which allows local governments and 501(c)(3) non-profit corporations to take on management of parks slated to be closed.

AB42 also created an opportunity for for-profit corporations such as Disney and Kampgrounds of America Inc. (KOA) to bid on providing concessions in parks that would otherwise be closed. The corporation awarded the bid would be able to run campgrounds and recreational facilities in a “bundle” of parks, which would undermine the ability of community groups or non-profits to manage the parks locally.

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