State resumes control of Tomales Bay State Park


An agreement reached last week between a Marin nonprofit and the state will result in the latter once again officially operating Tomales Bay State Park about eight months after relinquishing the role.

Friends of China Camp has run three state parks in the county since March: China Camp, which will continue to be operated by the nonprofit, and Olompali and Tomales Bay, which are being transferred back to the state. The change means the state will again hold insurance policies, be responsible for finances and report to donors, including undertaking an upcoming audit of matching funds that the state provided to numerous parks in 2012.

The shift comes during a time of reduced funding for California’s parks, which have seen a 37 percent cut from the state’s general fund in the past five years.

Visitors won’t likely note significant changes, said Danita Rodriguez, Marin’s district superintendent for state parks. The agency is planning to improve trails and hire extra seasonal staff next summer. “I think [the takeover] allows for state parks to do what state parks does best: operate parks,” she said. 

Ed Lai, the chair of Friends of China Camp, echoed that sentiment. “We’re all volunteer organizations. We’re not in the business of running parks,” he said.

Ms. Rodriguez said no one knows what will happen after the money runs out, or how the parks will avoid the tumult of stop-gap funding. “That’s the ten million dollar question now,” she said.

A fleeting discussion last summer about whether to reestablish car camping at Tomales Bay—which met fierce opposition from a few locals—will not move forward at this time, she added.