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Non-profit rescues northern Mendocino County state park

Standish-Hickey State Park on Friday opened its gates to car-driving campers for the first time this year.

"We're just really excited," said Carolyne Cathey, director of the Mendocino Area Parks Association, the non-profit that will operate the park, located along Highway 101 just south of Humboldt County.

The agreement with state parks officials has not been finalized, but a permit has been issued for the interim period, she said.

It's one of many multi-faceted efforts that are sparing nearly 70 parks from the state's budget ax, at least for this year.

"This is very good news," said Gary Ballard, owner of the Peg House, a deli, grocery and gift store near the park. He's also a member of Team Standish, an advocacy group that worked on saving the park from closure.

All 99 campsites accessible from Highway 101 are now open, said Dana Jones, superintendent of state parks' North Coast Redwood District.

They previously were open only to pedestrians and bicyclists.

However, vandals on several occasions broke into the park to camp, Cathey said.

Over the Memorial Day weekend, someone cut down a small tree so they could drive into the campgrounds, Cathey said. Nearly 50 people entered the park that weekend, and last Sunday the gate was found broken, Cathey said.

It shows how important it is to keep parks open and supervised, she said.

"We don't want any more damage," Cathey said.


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