Brown signs bill to keep state parks open

  • 6/12/2012: A1:
    PC: Angela Rosencrans pushes her children Hayden, 5, and Grace, 3, up a long hill in Annadel State Park on Monday afternoon, June 11, 2012.

SACRAMENTO - Gov. Jerry Brown announced Tuesday that he had signed several bills to keep California's state parks open and ensure greater spending oversight after a scandal in which parks officials hid $54 million.

Together, the bills establish a two-year moratorium on park closures, provide about $30 million in funding and give the department that manages California's 278 state parks new fundraising tools.

AB1478 by Assemblyman Bob Blumenfield, D-Woodland Hills, splits $30 million to help state parks at risk of closure stay open, complete overdue maintenance, and provide $10 million to match donations from private groups and local governments.

Department of Parks and Recreation Director Ruth Coleman resigned and a senior parks official was terminated this summer after it was revealed that some employees kept $54 million hidden in two special funds for more than a decade, even as dozens of parks were threatened with closure.

Brown's signature on the bills was a first step toward restoring public confidence in the management of parks, said Elizabeth Goldstein, president of the nonprofit California State Parks Foundation, which had rallied to save some of the sites. Nonprofit groups and local governments helped raise money and in some cases assumed responsibility for keeping the 70 state parks operating past a July 1 closure deadline.

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