‘Friends’ Less Eager to Help California Parks
Organizations along California’s Central Coast appear less likely to donate their time and money, now that the $54 million hidden money scandal has come to light.
Now, lawmakers and the governor are busy trying to figure out what to do with the excess funds, KION-TV, Santa Cruz, reported.
But some donors are disappointed. After all, they were the ones that stepped in to keep many state parks slated to close afloat.
“The state apparently wasn’t going to have the money and we met with the local officials to see how can we help out, what can we do. We’re already doing a lot of cleanups, but how can we come out and do more,” said Laura Kasa, executive director for Save Our Shores in Santa Cruz.
Kasa said someone has to help keep the parks clean.
Even though the non-profit organization was struggling itself, losing $100,000 in state funding, she spent the last nine months rallying for support to prevent trash from piling up on the beaches.
Doing more, but with less, Save Our Shores used $10,000 to order signs to get people to clean up.
All the while, the State Parks department was sitting on millions of dollars.
“I’m shocked, actually, because I know I have been spending nine months on this issue. It’s taken a lot of my time,” Kasa said.
Friends of Santa Cruz State Parks said it won’t be making its quarterly donation, part of an agreement it had with State Parks to prevent Santa Cruz Mission State Historic Park from closing last month.
Bonny Hawley, executive director for Friends of Santa Cruz State Parks, was out of town on Thursday and sent Central Coast News this statement, saying in part: “In light of recent allegations about ‘found funds’ at state parks, Friends is holding off making the first payment in support of our agreement until more information is revealed through the recently launched audit and investigation of the department’s finances.”
In response, State Parks sent this statement: “We share the outrage and concern expressed by our parks partners These partners entered into honorable negotiations with one goal in mind, helping to preserve and protect state parks and keep them open. We are profoundly thankful for their generous support. We will work with the Legislature to determine how this money can be used to mitigate park closures. As we move forward, we want to work closely with our park partners to seek the best way possible to restore trust in the department.”
The Point Lobos Foundation said even though it spent $400,000 on state parks this year, it’s not asking for the money back.
Mountain Parks Foundation said the money it raises is not sent to the State Parks department but is instead kept locally on the central coast.
Its director, Brenda Holmes, said she’s suprised about these “found funds,” but the organization will continue its mission as normal.