Park association makes bid to operate Plumas-Eureka State Park

Delaine Fragnoli
Managing Editor

Plumas-Eureka State Park, on the list of state parks to be closed next year because of budget shortfalls, may have new life thanks to the efforts of the volunteer-driven Plumas-Eureka State Park Association.

The association has submitted a proposal to operate PESP to the local state park district and is waiting to hear the results of a meeting between district staff and Sacramento staff. “We hope to hear soon,” said John Sciborski of the park association. “We’d like to wrap this up by the end of the year.”

The association is proposing to operate the campground — a popular tourist draw and source of income — and to provide educational and interpretive activities.

The association has worked since 1977 to support the interpretive and educational programs at PESP. It is probably best known in the community for its hugely popular Gold Discovery Days, held annually one weekend in July.

In other developments, Gov. Jerry Brown last week signed legislation that would allow the California Department of Parks and Recreation to enter into agreements with nonprofits for the operation of state parks.

Previously, the department could enter operational agreements with an agency of the United States, a city, county, district or other public agency or a combination of such agencies for the care, maintenance, administration and control of lands within the state park system.

The new law extends that power to agreements with qualified nonprofit organizations.

The legislation requires the operating agreement to include certain provisions, such as annual public reports and meetings.

The bill also requires the department to notify a member of the Legislature of its intent to enter into such an operating agreement for lands within the member’s district. The department must notify certain legislative committees, too, and report to the Legislature about any operating agreements on a biennial basis.

The bill repeals these provisions as of Jan. 1, 2019.

The legislation was prompted by the imminent closure of one-quarter of California’s state parks because of budget deficits. Plumas-Eureka State Park, Plumas County’s only state park, is on the list of 70 parks to be closed. (The park was closed this summer for an unrelated Environmental Protection Agency cleanup of toxic mining materials.)

The California State Parks Foundation (CSPF) said it was “delighted that this new tool will be available.” The group said, “Now the trick is taking the promise of AB 42 and building the partnerships to give it life.”

Brown vetoed a second state parks bill, SB 356, which would require state parks to notify a county or city if the department intends to close a park in its jurisdiction and to give the locality the option of assuming responsibility of the park.

In his veto message, Brown called the bill “unnecessary.” He noted that the parks department had already made the park closure list public. “A separate notification process for cities and counties would be duplicative.”

Brown said that the parks department had already “signed agreements with localities willing to operate state parks and intends to sign more.”

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