|Annadel gets one-year reprieve
Donations, state contribution help keep popular state park open in SR
The Sonoma County Board of Supervisors on Tuesday authorized an agreement that will keep Annadel State Park open to the public for at least another year.
The board’s unanimous action will allow Sonoma County Regional Parks to manage Annadel from July 1, 2012 through June 30, 2013, sparing the park from imminent closure because of state budget cuts.
The Board earlier this year directed Regional Parks to negotiate a one-year operating plan with California State Parks, and managers returned with a contract that will maintain the park’s current services at no added expense to the county. Of the $278,000 needed to run the park for the coming fiscal year, more than $200,000 was raised through local donations, including $100,000 from Santa Rosa philanthropist Henry Trione. The state, meanwhile, agreed to contribute $50,000 and to continue paying for a full-time ranger.
Board Chairwoman Shirlee Zane said, “Saving Annadel is truly a community triumph. Preserving Annadel for public use is a crowning achievement that only occurred because the private and public sectors worked together to keep open a vital community resource. The incredible generosity shown by local donors to supplement the state funds will ensure our families can continue to enjoy one of Sonoma County’s most beautiful places.”
Annadel is on Santa Rosa’s eastern edge, bordering Spring Lake Regional Park. Its 5,000 acres of woodlands, hills and meadows are visited by more than 300,000 people each year. The park is a popular destination for hikers, runners, mountain bikers and equestrians who use its 40 miles of trails daily and fill the park for annual events like the Annadel Half Marathon.
“Annadel is a place where we keep our bodies and minds healthy, connect with our neighbors and share the county’s beauty with visitors,” said Regional Parks Director Caryl Hart. “This community values its parks, and with the overwhelming support shown for Annadel over the past year, made it abundantly clear that closing parks is not an option.”
Hart said if Annadel was to close, the threats to its natural resources and the public’s safety would be great. The board's leadership with Annadel, she said, ensures the park stays open with its existing services and protections while a more permanent solution is pursued.
The state last spring announced that Annadel and four other state parks in Sonoma County were among 70 statewide targeted for closure because of budget cuts. The other parks - Sugarloaf Ridge, Jack London, Petaluma Adobe and Austin Creek - also have local sponsors who have committed to keep them open through the coming year.
Over the past 12 months, Regional Parks worked closely with the Sonoma County Regional Parks Foundation and the Parks Alliance for Sonoma County to develop a fundraising and volunteer base for Annadel. Within the Parks Alliance, a diverse coalition of park users and other “Friends of Annadel” have come together to coordinate ongoing fundraising, continue valuable volunteer service in the park and help organize special events.
The agreement now goes to the state for final approval. If California State Parks later wishes to extend the agreement beyond 2012-2013, county park managers will return to the Board with a report on the long-term costs involved. The state’s plans for Annadel will depend, in part, on the budget outlook following November’s election.
Starting July 1, Regional Parks members can use their annual parking permits at Annadel.
For more information, visit www.sonomacountyparks.org or call 565-2041.