【KTSF by Angelina Wong】
The China Camp State Park in Marin County is scheduled to close this coming July under the current state budget. A growing number of people in the North Bay are banding together to rescue this unique state park.
Established in 1978, the China Camp is nestled along the shore of the San Pablo Bay. The park has a size of 1,514 acres and offers beautiful views of the bay. There are trails, picnic areas, campground and a beach. There is a museum describing an early Chinese settlement at China Camp Village. A Chinese shrimp-fishing village thrived on this site in the 1880s. Nearly 500 people, originally from China, lived in the village.
There are two park rangers station at the China Camp State Park. Sometimes they are required to cover three to four other state parks in the county. Since Governor Jerry Brown announced the list of state parks that will be closed, China Camp’s park ranger Cecilia Rejas has witnessed more vandalism and graffiti.
“We have some trash tossed into the park off the side of the road and I think word has gotten out that this park is closed so we see a slight uptake of vandalism in the park and graffiti as well. More graffiti,” said Rejas.
The nonprofit Marin State Parks Association and its subgroups, Friends of China Camp, are racing against time. They want to increase membership and raise enough money to save the China Camp. AB 42, legislation signed into law, authorizes the Department of Parks and Recreation to enter into an operating agreement with a qualified nonprofit organization to run a state park. The Marin groups want to utilize the new law to rescue the China Camp. However, money is the major issue.
Ernest Chung of Kenfield is the president of the Friends of China Camp. “The budget to operate the China Camp is quite big. It takes $500,000 to $800,000 to keep the park open. We are hoping to raise part of the fund. Our goal is to raise between $250,000 – $300,000″ said Chung.
Ed Lai, a San Rafael’s resident, is a member of the Friends of China Camp. He also volunteers to explain the Chinese shrimp-fishing history at the museum. “We would like to let more people know about our history and our mission,” said Lai.
Although China Camp is a state park, the roads running through the park are managed by Marin County. Even if the park is closed this July, people can still use the roads but the museum at the village will be closed. The Department of Parks and Recreation is in discussion with the county and nonprofit organizations about the park’s future. There are different proposals. The state park department is considering to collect park fees from visitors. Marin county is also studying the possibility of having an increased sales tax on the November ballot to help keep state parks open.
Frank Quan, the 86-year-old fisherman of the China Camp, is optimistic about the future. “We are anxious to see what’s going to happen in a few months. I’m optimistic we can settle somehow,” said Quan.
The Department of Parks and Recreation allows Quan to live in China Camp even if the park is closed. Quan has decided to stay. “It’s my house, my home,” he said.
For more information about the China Camp State Park and how to help, please visit:
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