Donations of time and money have given Hendy Woods State Park in Mendocino County a reprieve from closure.
"I'm stoked," said Kathy Bailey, chairwoman of the Hendy Woods Community, a local group that led the effort to keep open the 845-acre, redwood-studded park that stretches along the Navarro River in the Anderson Valley.
Hendy Woods is a key draw for tourists. It also provides half of the valley's overnight accommodations, said Deborah Cahn, owner of Navarro Vineyards &amp; Winery. The park's four cabins and 92 campsites can now be booked online at ReserveAmerica.
"It's very important" to the local economy, said Cahn, who hosted one of the fundraisers held to generate money for the park. Hendy Woods Community also ran a successful donation drive.
Hendy Woods was one of eight state parks in the county slated for closure. Statewide, 70 parks were on a hit list aimed at alleviating the state budget crisis. The number is dwindling as nonprofits and community groups rally to save them.
Under a pending agreement, Hendy Woods Community will be giving the state $20,000 to help operate the park. Save the Redwoods League is donating $20,000 and the local group also is providing 1,000 hours of volunteer time.
The nonprofit California State Parks Foundation announced Thursday that it was awarding $329,000 in one-year grants to help keep open 15 of the parks, including Hendy Woods and five others in Mendocino County and the North Bay. The foundation, however, would not disclose how much is going to each park program.
The Hendy Woods agreement with the state has not been finalized, but park officials are confident it will be and have approved keeping the park open through the summer.
Business owners are relieved, said Glad Donahue, director of the Anderson Valley Chamber of Commerce. "Hendy Woods is one of Anderson Valley's most unique attractions. Without visitors coming to the park, our stores, restaurants, farm stands, wine tasting rooms and galleries would have taken a huge hit that no one can afford," she said.
Bill Boger, owner of Jack's Valley Store in Philo, said he'd survive without the park but is happy with the reprieve. "We certainly like to see it there," he said.
But the future of the park remains uncertain. "We're going to have to keep up fundraising," Bailey said.
Donations, grants and agreements with various groups are expected to keep most of Mendocino County's parks open this year, said Loren Rex, state parks superintendent for the Mendocino district. Park fees will be increasing to compensate for a funding shortage. "Our goal is to keep them all open," Rex said.
Jug Handle State Natural Reserve, a day-use park on the coast, was the first Mendocino County park to be rescued.
Agreements are in the works for at least four others, Rex said.
You can reach Staff Writer Glenda Anderson at 462-6473 or Glenda.firstname.lastname@example.org.