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Sonoma County will seek to run Annadel State Park

Setting aside concerns about long-term costs, Sonoma County supervisors Tuesday took their first official steps toward assuming temporary management of Annadel State Park.

The board unanimously authorized Regional Parks Director Caryl Hart to open negotiations with the state about taking over operations of the popular 5,000-acre park on Santa Rosa's eastern flank.

The decision was cheered by a overflow crowd of hikers, bicyclists and equestrians, many of whom encouraged the board to take the step and promised to continue raising money to keep the park open.

Annadel State Park At 40

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"It's not just the state's burden. It's our burden," said Carlos Perez, founder of cycling organization Bike Monkey.

Perez said his organization helped raise $50,000 to save Annadel, and those efforts will continue, he said. He reminded supervisors that a significant number of the 300,000 annual visitors to the park come from out of the area.

"Annadel is a huge draw for tourism to Sonoma County and the financials of that should not be set aside," he said.

Despite the strong show of support, board members clearly did not relish the prospect of becoming responsible for another service previously handled by the state.

Supervisor Mike McGuire said there is "growing frustration" about the way the state continues to shift responsibilities to local government, whether through prison "realignment," human services or parks.

"Once again the county is having to act as the state's sponge, soaking up those vital programs that they continue to shed off their plate," McGuire said.

Running Annadel would dramatically increase the amount of park acreage run by the county. Currently that figure is about 8,000-acres, so Annadel would represent a 62 percent increase.


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