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$19,000 donation keeps Jug Handle State Natural Reserve open a year

A Cotati man's campaign to save California state parks paid its first dividend Friday with the announcement that a $19,000 donation will keep Jug Handle Reserve on the Mendocino Coast open for a year.

"It's great news," said Alden Olmsted, whose spare-change fundraising drive contributed $9,500 for the reserve established by his naturalist father, the late John D. Olmsted.

The California State Parks Foundation, a nonprofit organization that also is campaigning to keep parks open, put up another $9,500.

Olmsted said the donations will allow maintenance of basic services, such as restroom and trail upkeep and trash removal, at Jug Handle Reserve, located halfway between the towns of Mendocino and Fort Bragg.

Jug Handle was one of 70 state parks targeted for closure by July 1 in a $22 million state budget-cutting move. It is now among the 11 parks that have been saved by donations or other arrangements, state parks spokesman Roy Stearns said.

Olmsted last year placed about 60 collection buckets at businesses, including coffee shops, banks and grocery stores, primarily in Sonoma, Marin and Nevada counties.

He also put up a website at www.olmstedparkfund.org and said he received nearly 1,000 letters with donations.

"This is proof that you can fight City Hall," said Olmsted, 40, a Sonoma Valley High graduate who works as a filmmaker and photographer.

Olmsted recalled that his father, who died a year ago, thwarted development of a motel on Jug Handle Bluff in 1972, leading to creation of the state reserve.

"This is an example of how a passionate individual can make a difference," state parks Director Ruth Coleman said.

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