A volunteer association is working to take over operations at Jack London State Historic Park as the state inches closer to shutting down the popular Glen Ellen hiking and tourist destination.
The 1,800-acre park is not slated to close until July 1, 2012, but members of the Valley of the Moon Natural History Association expressed concern Thursday that park services could continue to be scaled back.
Jack London already is closed two days a week, and the park's only ranger, Deej Beane, is planning to retire Oct. 14.
“Our fear is that if the last remaining ranger goes away, perhaps there will be some adjustments to these service reductions, adding more days of closure,” said Greg Hayes, president of the Valley of the Moon association and a retired Jack London park ranger.
A state parks spokesman on Thursday said he could not provide definitive answers on whether more service reductions are in store or if the park could close completely prior to next summer.
“It is hard to give hard and fast dates, because of the variables of retirements, movement of personnel between positions, funding emergencies and the like,” he said.
The Valley of the Moon group sent a letter to State Parks Director Ruth Coleman stating the group's desire to run the facility. Hayes said he hopes the letter will buy the park some time as the association works to draft a proposal to operate it.
“We don't want a chain of events to get into place where they (the state) starts closing the park down before our proposal goes through,” he said.
Stearns said Coleman is receptive to the association's plans.
“Absolutely,” he said. “We welcome all interested parties to the table to enter into a discussion to find out if they are capable of operating a park.”
He said the group will have to demonstrate that they are capable of handling operations, including maintenance, preservation and protection, and bookkeeping.