Sugarloaf Ridge State Park fans welcome reopening
Published: Thursday, February 16, 2012 at 6:58 p.m.
Last Modified: Thursday, February 16, 2012 at 6:58 p.m.
Darin Schultz of Tacoma, Washington on Thursday slowly drove up to the white plastic barricades and orange pylons in the small dirt parking lot near the Goodspeed trailhead at Sugarloaf Ridge State Park.
Signs warning that the park was closed were posted on the barricades and on park information boards. They were enough to discourage the Wine Country vacationer from illegally entering the park.
When told that the park was reopening Friday on a limited basis, Schultz quipped, “It's a day late for me.”
But local residents who have long used the park east of Santa Rosa were elated.
“I think it's fantastic that they want to open the park,” said Diccon Westworth, a veterinarian who visited the park Thursday afternoon.
Westworth said it was “atrocious” that parks such as Sugarloaf were closed in the first place. He said parks should be a top priority for the public and “people should be willing to pay money for this sort of park for future generations.”
The 4,000-acre park east of Kenwood was closed in early December because of budget cuts, the first time in its 48-year history. The closure was part of a plan to close 67 of the state's 278 parks by July 1 to save $11 million this budget year and $22 million in succeeding years.
The original plan was to close 70 parks, but the National Park Service agreed to operate three parks, including Tomales and Samuel P. Taylor state parks in Marin County.
State officials said they decided to reopen Sugarloaf — for day use only — because of problems with people parking outside the park's closed gates and clogging Adobe Canyon Road, the narrow lane that leads to Sugarloaf.
One nearby property owner on Adobe Canyon Road said she was very happy that the park was reopening and that she hoped it would eliminate some of the roadside parking.
The property owner, who asked that her name not be used, said that people were parking in areas that were intended for her tenants.
“I'm very happy it's opening; it's been very sad,” she said.
State officials said that cars parking on the side of the road have created a safety hazards, and that the park has lost revenue by not collecting parking fees.
On Thursday, Leni Ortega of Santa Rosa parked her SUV on the side of the road just west of the dirt parking lot. Ortega, 21, said she has been visiting Sugarloaf for about six years and loves hiking to the waterfall on Sonoma Creek.
Ortega, a full-time student at Santa Rosa Junior College, said Thursday was the second time she has visited the park since it closed.
“I tried two months ago, but there were a lot of people coming in and out and some rangers,” Ortega said. “I really like visiting the waterfall.
The park is to reopen at 10 a.m. Friday. The $8 parking fee can be paid by check or cash at the self-registration kiosk.
Day-use area hours are 7 a.m. to 10 p.m. The hours in the lower parking lot are from 6 a.m. to 8 p.m. The Goodspeed trailhead parking lot also will reopen for day-use parking.
Campgrounds remain closed for the winter.
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