Only a few years removed from a grim prospect of closure due to state budgetary concerns, Castle Rock State Park, north of Boulder Creek, has entered into an agreement with the Sempervirens Fund that will keep it open at least through 2016.
The agreement states that the organization and the state will each match funds raised by the other — dollar for dollar — for a year beginning July 1.
According to a Sempervirens Fund press release, the agreement includes a pledge that the park will remain open through 2016, barring circumstances such as a natural disaster or specific legislation.
“We think it’s all trending in the right direction,” said Reed Holderman, executive director for the Sempervirens Fund. “It would’ve been tragic to keep it closed.”
The Sempervirens Fund has been associated with the park since it opened in 1968. The fund has made more than 35 land purchases for Castle Rock, including the San Lorenzo River Redwoods area, which contains the headwaters for the river that formed the San Lorenzo Valley.
Castle Rock State Park is popular for rock formations that attract hundreds of climbers annually, in addition to sweeping views and 32 miles of trails.
In March 2012, Sempervirens promised $250,000 to keep the park open after it was slated in May 2011 for closure because of state budget cuts.
“A lot of it came from the rock climbing community,” Holderman said.
Chet Bardo, state parks superintendent in Santa Cruz, believes Castle Rock will remain open indefinitely as the state budget solidifies funding for parks after several years of question marks.
“We’ve been to the bottom and we’re climbing up,” he said this week.
Bardo said closing the park would have proven a challenge even if he had been ordered to do so.
“Something like Castle Rock, you can’t close it anyway, because there are so many points of entry,” he said.
Bardo said the state parks system is working with Sempervirens to acquire land alongside the park where a new entrance and parking lot will be built.
Holderman said the organization had an application process in the works with Santa Cruz County to build the new entrance, with the hopes of getting construction started as early as summer 2014.
“The park should be partially, if not completely, self-sustaining,” he said, adding that a visible entrance would likely draw more visitors. “With the public-private partnerships, we’ll figure it out.”
A volunteer group will soon join the regular staff in maintaining the trails at the park. Those interested in taking part can learn more from the Sempervirens Fund website, http://sempervirens.org.
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