A scandal that broke after a California paper discovered the State Park system has been sitting on $53 million while pleading a budget crisis and closing parks will likely have little effect on the Mono Lake and Bodie state parks, according to local officials.
“We don’t see any effects at this time,” said Mono Lake State Tufa Reserve ranger Dave Marquart. “That said, it’s still too soon to tell what the final effects will be. We don’t know enough yet about this to determine what will happen in the long run.”
He said none of the region’s state field representatives or local representatives and employees are involved in the scandal, which appears to be confined to top administration officials at this time.
Although the $53 million would not itself alone have been able to keep the 70 parks slated for closure last year open—including Mono Lake—the money is not just pocket change either, according to one regional representative who requested anonymity.
“We have a $400 million budget to manage all the parks,” he said. “This is the size of the kind of reserve we would like to have.”
Mono Lake was slated for closure last year, but through the work of many local volunteers, the Mono Lake Committee, and the nonprofit Bodie Foundation’s agreement to manage the park, the park was one of the first in the state to be removed from the closure list.
Other parks were later removed from the list, using a combination of private donations and local government funds from governments already strapped for funds.