China Camp Village lovers will be celebrating Saturday as the California Department of Parks & Recreation officially signs a new agreement that keeps the park running. And Olompali State Historic Park near Novato. And Tomales Bay State Park, too.
Now for the back story. The Marin State Parks Association, Friends of China Camp, and a host of similar groups around the state scrambled last year to save 70 parks put on a closure list — back when the state parks department claimed it didn’t have the cash to keep all its parks open.
Then $54 million dollars was discovered sitting on the books undeclared. Audits later determined $34 million of that was unspent money for off-highway vehicle projects. That still left $20 million for which the explanation appears to be that parks department officials feared
a) they would get in trouble
b) the money would be taken from them to plug state budget holes
Shortly thereafter, then-Assemblyman Jared Huffman of San Rafael sponsored a bill that froze the closures and directed the parks agency to use $10 million of the $20 million to provide matching funds to support local operating agreements.