California Examining Public-Private Park Pacts
Wal-Mart State Park?
While observers call such a notion far-fetched in California, recommendations that state parks align more closely with nonprofit agencies and private organizations has fueled concerns about mission creep into public spaces.
The Press Democrat reported that Parks Forward, a commission that is considering the future of California’s natural and historical treasures, is tentatively recommending the California Department of Parks and Recreation work more cooperatively with outside organizations to bring stability and generate revenue.
Such proposals resonate in Sonoma County, where several state parks are being managed by nonprofit groups, a situation stemming from California’s budget crisis when parks were threatened with closure. These parks include Jack London State Historic Park in Glen Ellen, Sugarloaf Ridge State Park near Kenwood and Armstrong Redwoods and Austin Creek State Recreation Area in Guerneville.
Parks Forward is recommending creation of a new nonprofit to support the parks department statewide, assisting with everything from designing state-of-the-art fee collection machines to increasing business development opportunities such as hosting special events in parks and partnering with community groups for preservation of historic sites.
The nonprofits operating parks in Sonoma County already are doing many of those things, their leaders note.
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