If state government had its way, here's the story you might be reading on page one today:
Visitors to Annadel State Park this morning will be turned away by barricades across their favorite trails. The popular Santa Rosa park is officially closed, rangers declared at midnight. No one in state government would say when the park might reopen or even promise that it would reopen.
Responding to the closure, local public safety agencies began making emergency plans to deal with the risks associated with trespassing, fire, vandalism, illegal dumping, marijuana gardens and other hazards. "It's going to be a long, hot summer," one official said.
Thanks to the hard work and generosity of local people, this story comes with a different — and happier — ending. Today is the first day of a new life for the park under the management of Sonoma County Regional Parks.
If you're an early riser, you can still get to this morning's celebration, 9 a.m. to noon, at nearby Spring Lake swimming lagoon. In a fundraiser for the park, 10 bucks will get you breakfast, too.
It's the perfect time to celebrate — and to take note of what we've learned along the way. For instance:
Enthusiasm matters. The people who rescued Annadel and other local parks didn't surrender to the cynicism and apathy that poison so many political issues.
Like it or not, people and community groups will need to accept more responsibility for the parks and other public improvements that are important in their lives.
To get things done, it will be necessary to put aside outdated expectations and old ways of doing things. For the foreseeable future, state government will continue to back away from commitments Californians once took for granted.
We can whine about it or move on. Success stories will occur whenever we invent new models of stewardship and partnerships that make the best use of limited resources.
This will oblige us to ask a new set of questions: What's most important to us? What can we afford? Where is the duplication and waste? How can we do it better? How can we do it cheaper? These won't be easy choices. Some projects are affordable, and some are not. Some lend themselves to home-grown solutions, and some don't. Too bad.
I wrote last year about a meeting in Berkeley, a gathering of regional leaders who came together "to imagine how new kinds of partnerships could save some of the 70 state parks now marked for closure." This meeting brought the first public mention of talks to bring Annadel under the administration of Sonoma County Regional Parks.
We now know the folks at that meeting meant business.
On Thursday, state parks officials reported that 65 of the 70 state parks marked for closure will remain open this year — 40 of them because of agreements with local government and nonprofits.
In Sonoma County, we know this story. The Valley of the Moon Historical Association came forward with a plan to operate Jack London State Historic Park in Glen Ellen. A coalition led by the Sonoma Ecology Center will manage Sugarloaf Ridge State Park in Kenwood. Money raised by the Save the Petaluma Adobe Committee will keep Petaluma Adobe State Historic Park open for another year.