State Parks admits $54 million hidden surplus

monolaketufaFor many months, the Mono Lake Committee and a list of other supporters worked tirelessly to save the Mono Lake State Tufa Reserve from threatened State closure.  Now, the Associated Press has revealed that the director of California State Parks and other officials “sat on nearly $54 million in surplus money for years while parks were threatened with closure over budget cuts.”

News reports said that this scandal came to light in the past two days.  The State Parks Director Ruth Coleman stepped down, and her deputy Michael Harris was fired. Coleman claimed she had no knowledge of the huge surplus.

Initially, State officials announced the impending closure of more than 70 parks, including the Mono Lake Tufa Reserve in Lee Vining.  Those interested in keeping all park facilities open, launched a massive letter-writing campaign and then came up with a plan to charge for parking. Suddenly last month, park officials announced that most of the 70 parks set for closure would remain open.

According to news reports, the State Parks and Recreation fund held $20.4 million more than reported, and the Off-Highway Vehicle fund held $33.5 million more than reported.  Officials called it an accounting error.

During efforts to save parks, details came out that many, if not most parks, actually make money or cost the State very little money.


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20 Responses to State Parks admits $54 million hidden surplus

  1. Jerry July 23, 2012 at 1:24 pm #

    I bet they were planning to embezzle that money!

    • Truth Seeker July 23, 2012 at 7:14 pm #

      They gave $600,000.00 of the Off-Highway fund to the Friends Of the Inyo to close our roads on our lands. The FOI was happy to apply for that grant to serve as puppets fortheir USFS masters.

      They have yet to admit publically how much their people get paid to close our roads and how much they get as an administrative fee to fund FOI.

      • Benett Kessler July 24, 2012 at 8:50 am #


        I did find out from FOI that they pay workers out on the roads $15 to $19 per hour and that they advertised for the jobs in local papers and elsewhere. Paul McFarland indicated that very few are actually members of FOI.


        • Truth Seeker July 24, 2012 at 7:33 pm #

          Thanks for the Follow up Benett. Now FOI has to come clean on how much they are taking off the top for administration and how much of our fees Paul FOI member McFarland is taking personally for his road closing efforts.

          • Paul McFarland July 25, 2012 at 10:11 am #

            Howdy there “Truth Seeker” –
            I make around 19.50 an hour without benefits. How about you?
            Each week I average at least a day to a day and half of unpaid volunteer time working to coordinate volunteer projects for the other work that needs to get done on the Forest but there are no resources to pay for – such as maintaining trails, cleaning and improving campsites and working to bring more federal and private funds to do work on the ground to sustain this place.
            In addition to that I serve on a few local boards and volunteer committees, as well as volunteer within my own community in a number of capacities.
            How about growing up and standing behind your comments with your real name?
            thanks, paul

          • Jerry C. July 25, 2012 at 10:55 am #

            Mr. Paul,
            As far as we know, “Truth Seeker” isn’t taking any green sticker tax monies to fund his “environmental” business. Why should he have to tell us what he makes?
            And before calling Truth Seeker out (by using real name), maybe your website should display all of its pictures, descriptions, and its expenditures. It seems to me like your organization might be doing a little hiding of it’s own.
            Just saying.

            People that pay into the green sticker fund would like the God’s honest truth of what FOI has been doing to our roads. . So come on, lay it all out there for everyone to see and admire.
            Pictures speak a thousand words

          • sierragrl July 25, 2012 at 12:27 pm #

            wow, 5 thumbs down for answering truthseekers questions honestly…I guess people aren’t interested in facts…

          • Truth Seeker July 25, 2012 at 6:14 pm #

            Great attempt a deflection Paul. If FOI is so proud of what they are doing in closing roads to their neighbors, why is there nothing about it on their web site? They should have pictires of you and your crew installing barriers all over Inyo and Mono counties. I am sure they are very proud of that (sic). They cleary have not wanted the truth to be known until Benett had the guts to bring the issue to surface.

            I predict the majority of these barriers will be gone in five years long after you have spent your 30 pieces of silver.

            Sooooo, How much are they taking off the top for the administrative fee?

    • upthecreek July 23, 2012 at 10:25 pm #

      @ Jerry.
      give them a break.. They wanted to save it for their Huge Public Pensions

      Govt gone wild.
      They should all be fired for the so called accounting Error.

      • vince Townsend July 25, 2012 at 4:33 pm #

        Yup exactly, THEY wanted that money $$$ for their Fat Public Pensions and ya’ll would’ve paid for it 🙁

    • Big AL July 24, 2012 at 12:05 am #

      Yeah right Jerry lol .. they were hoarding it, not using it in the fiscal years, for what ever reason .. at the fiscal year end .. instead of spending what they had for the fiscal year’s budget all year, they kept it, rolled it over to the next year’s budget. Probably get lots of atta boys from the legislature for not spending so much.

      Not spending too much money .. so parks suffered from them not letting out the pieces of gold, the whole time telling everyone they didn’t get enough money in the budget.

      You can bet it won’t all go for state parks though .. now that the cat is out of the bag .. the greed and waste machine in Sacramento will suck it up and throw it away, like it does with every other penny it gets.

      To bad the state parks have had to suffer with no extra money while they kept the gold locked up.

  2. Trouble July 23, 2012 at 7:05 pm #

    I hope a grand jury is looking into this. This sounds like dirty politics.

  3. amused July 23, 2012 at 7:27 pm #

    It makes you wonder how many other agencies have surplus money that is hidden behind “accounting errors” while the average person struggles to survive.

  4. steve July 23, 2012 at 8:27 pm #

    33.5 million in o.h.v. funds?….use some to open the roads!!!!!

  5. Tourbillon July 24, 2012 at 12:47 pm #

    Remember this sordid little story when you vote on the tax increases in November.

    • upthecreek July 24, 2012 at 9:33 pm #

      also remember the little bullet train they funded.THIS MONTH

  6. jose chavez July 24, 2012 at 9:14 pm #

    itsa liek when i hide money from my wife!!!

  7. John Barton July 25, 2012 at 9:35 am #

    I can understand an “accounting oversight” of a few thousand $$ but $54 million? Something smells very bad about his and I hope our politicians will push for an independent accounting of this division and then pick another one randomly and do an audit to see what other departments/agencies are hiding something.

  8. sierragrl July 25, 2012 at 12:34 pm #

    As far as I can tell, they seemed to not know about these special funded ‘funds’….some reporters (not KSRW) are using inflamatory terms,like these funds were ‘hidden’ as if for some lurid purpose, As big al pointed out, they didn’t spend these funds or embezzle them. sounds like ‘finding’ them is a good thing. Although I bet what they can be used for is limited since they are special funds. And an accounging system with checks and balances is a must…funds people are unawared could be more easily emezzled. I do want to see an accurate of accounting of all monies in these funds since their inception

  9. vince Townsend July 25, 2012 at 4:37 pm #

    The rabbit hole runs very Deep in the Gooog-Ol-Boy Network 🙂


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