With a busy Fourth of July week looming, California parks officials announced Thursday that 65 of the 70 state parks once slated to close Sunday because of budget cuts will remain open.
The move came after the governor signed a bill allocating new funds for the beleaguered parks system, and the state said it had reached agreements with nonprofits, local governments and others regarding 40 of the parks. Deals with other groups were in the works for 25 more, the California Department of Parks and Recreation said.
The state had issued a list of 70 parks -- nearly a quarter of its entire system -- that it intended to close in an effort to cut $22 million from the parks budget. The cuts came as California struggles to bridge a $15.7 billion deficit.
Two parks in Merced County -- McConnell and Hatfield state recreation areas -- narrowly escaped closure this year when a local group raised $65,000 to keep the two areas open.
But for the California State Mining and Mineral Museum in Mariposa, the outlook isn't so good.
The museum is on the closure list and is expected to shutter its doors soon, said Darci Moore, the museum's curator.
"As it stands now, we are slated to close effective July 1," she said.
All efforts to find funding have fallen through. The last hope for Moore is a private donor stepping forward at the last minute to provide the necessary funding.
The museum's collection is 132 years old with "lots of history and heritage," Moore said. If the museum is closed, all the items would go into storage until the facility is reopened.
In Stanislaus County, Turlock Lake will remain open. The state has reached an agreement with American Land & Leisure, a recreation management company based in Orem, Utah, to run the park for the next five years.
Turlock Lake State Recreation Area is on 228 acres bordered by the Tuolumne River and the reservoir.
Henry Coe State Park, in the hills southwest of Newman, also got a reprieve thanks to donors. The same is happening at Railtown 1897 State Historic Park in Jamestown.
Ruth Coleman, director of the state parks system, said the parks financial crisis has been difficult, but she was buoyed by the response from people who are passionate about the sites.
"We have re-energized the people who love parks, and they are stepping up and contributing to parks in all sorts of ways," Coleman said during a conference call with reporters.