Adam Spencer, The Triplicate

Public access to the Mill Creek Addition won't be lost after all, thanks to a decision made Wednesday at the board meeting of the Redwood Parks Association.

The Mill Creek Addition was the only local parkland at risk of closure due to state budget cuts.

The California Department of Parks and Recreation issued a list of 70 parks slated for closure after being asked to slice $22 million from its budget.

Del Norte Coast Redwoods State Park, which includes the Mill Creek

Addition, was on the list, but Redwood National and State Parks agreed

to step in to prevent closure by performing maintenance on the main

trails and operating the Mill Creek Campground (a separate area from the

Mill Creek Addition).

Similar agreements with non-profits, local governments and others

have allowed 65 of the 70 parks to remain open at least temporarily

after a closure deadline that had been set for Sunday.

"We're confident we'll be able to pull this off because this

community is committed to keeping access available and open to the

public," said Martha McClure, a Del Norte County supervisor and board

president of the Redwood Parks Association (RPA).

The details have yet to be hammered out regarding how RPA will carry

out its decision to preserve weekend access to the Mill Creek Addition

for at least another year, but it is committed to making it happen.

McClure suggested that partnering with Del Norte County or other

entities could be useful to perform some operations.

There was close to an hour of discussion before the RPA board made

its decision. The meeting was attended by state parks officials and

Ruskin Hartley, executive director of the Save the Redwoods League,

which was a key agency in the acquisition of the Mill Creek Addition and

helped figure out a way to keep the area open to the public.

"We're really encouraged to work with the local community and protect

it from closure for another year," Hartley said, adding that its

encouraging to have a local organization like RPA lead the effort. "Our

assessment is that if you shut the gates it's much more difficult to

reopen the park than to keep it going."

Keeping the Mill Creek Addition open was one of four projects Save

the Redwoods League pursued in response to the state's announcement of

parks closure.

The League also helped facilitate a deal to keep Grizzly Creek

Redwoods State Park open in Humboldt County.

Since the Mill Creek acquisition, millions of dollars of restoration

work has been completed there to bring the logged area back to natural


Restoration efforts would have continued either way since those

projects are already funded from sources outside the parks budget.

Forty of the 70 parks that were scheduled to close have already

reached agreements to keep them open, and another 25 had deals in the


The Associated Press contributed to this report.

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