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Annadel closed three days a week

  • Despite the locked entrance gates, Rob Granshaw walks a dog named Dolce at Annadel State Park in Santa Rosa, California on Wednesday, June 8, 2011. (BETH SCHLANKER/ The Press Democrat)

The green metal gates at the main entrance to Annadel State Park in Santa Rosa were closed this week, but bikers whizzed by and hikers barely paused on their way to the park's sloping trails and meadows.

Annadel and other parks around the North Coast are closing their gates several days a week as a result of ongoing state budget cuts. The closures come a year before state officials plan to shutter 70 state parks, Annadel among them, and are giving locals a taste of what may be to come.

"It's an awesome place," said Chris Long, 28, who was setting out for a ride on his mountain bike. "If we didn't have this...it would be a real shame. A lot of people would be upset to see this place shut down."

Annadel State Park At 40

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Park officials said the partial closures are the result of a decade of budget cuts and hiring freezes within the state park system. Starting this week and lasting through Labor Day, Annadel in east Santa Rosa will be closed Tuesdays, Wednesdays and Thursdays.

"We've been really short-staffed, and so we are closing the gates three days a week, just because we don't have enough bodies to keep up with the service levels and the patrol levels," said Mary Pass, Silverado sector superintendent for California State Parks.

Park officials do not intend to kick people out of the parks when closed, but that policy is in flux, said Clark Blanchard, spokesman for the California Natural Resources Agency, which oversees state parks.

"If we leave a few gates open and people go in and start vandalizing and messing things up, that doesn't work," Blanchard said.

But Pass said she's not sure how Annadel staff will proceed if there is trouble.

"Then we just become a police force keeping people from going in, and that doesn't make sense either," Pass said.

Her staff, which maintains 10 regional parks, was reduced by about 40 percent in the past year. The crew that remains cannot maintain all the trails and restrooms, nor deal with the trash generated, so the gates close to reduce traffic, Pass said.


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