The discovery that the California State Parks Department was sitting on $54 million of undeclared funds is making it tougher for local groups to save state parks from closing. In collaboration with our news partner the Bay Citizen, KQED's Katrina Schwartz reports that park supporters in Benicia say donors are increasingly skeptical.
The City of Benicia and its residents have been working for years to save two state parks, by raising money and creating a network of volunteers. Bay Citizen reporter Katharine Mieszkowski says the scandal may make it harder to convince people their money will be well spent.
"What will individual donors do? Will they continue to support their local state parks or will they be disillusioned by the scandal?" she said.
"This whole process has been very discouraging and there has not been real clarity on behalf of state parks," said Bob Berman, the vice-president of the Benicia State Parks Association, who complains that the shifting ground makes it hard to plan for the park's future.
The City of Benicia has already agreed to donate more than $15,000 to the state to pay for operating costs, but now they plan to pay in quarterly installments. They're hoping if some of the hidden funds go to parks, the city will get reimbursed.