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Save McGrath State Beach


One of 70 California State Parks on the closure list due to the state budget crisis...but not anymore! 

Saved!  Reservations for McGrath are available now for camping dates starting July 1st, 2012, click here for the reservation link.  

The Grand Reopening of McGrath Celebration was June 29th and 30th, 2012. 

So camp at McGrath and enjoy!!!  We did it!  But had it not been for City of Oxnard, County of Ventura and Mr. Mullin (of Mullin Automotive Museum in Oxnard) making those huge donations this wouldn't have happened.  We can't thank them enough! 

New to all this?  What are we talking about?  Scroll down the page to the "Save McGrath Effort History" section, a timeline beginning with the closure announcement to present.  Also see the
Save McGrath State Beach Facebook info page.

And now for the bad news...after all this effort recent news broke about $54 million surplus found at Sacramento's Dept of Parks & Recreation of which $20.3 million belongs to California State Parks!  Regardless, the glass is half full, our park (along with many others) is opened right now, otherwise all would still be closed and who knows when our park would have been reopened.  We stepped up when Sacramento failed to do so-but now Sacramento needs to make things right!

Latest news as of this writing, Gov Brown made a proposal to the legislature on how to use this surplus...and below, my personal thoughts on what should be done about this-I believe both our parks and the big donors who helped us save McGrath could now use our help (see last paragraph).

While personally I applaud Gov Brown's proposal to use the State Park SPRF $20.3 million surplus to save state parks I have some concerns I've conveyed to my state legislatures along with support of the Gov proposal in general.  Why only "in general"...

Consider the text below, reference page 1 at

State Parks and Recreation Fund - The State Parks and Recreation Fund (also called SPRF) was created by legislation in 1979, Chapter 1065, Statutes of 1979 (Public Resources Code 5010). All fees  earned by the department from camping, day use, museums, concessions, etc. are deposited into SPRF and are "available for expenditure for state park planning, acquisition, and development projects, operation of the state park system, and resource and property management and protection, when appropriated by the Legislature." Historically, SPRF revenues have been used for the support of the State Park System.

Governor Brown's proposal states:  (Reference press release at: 
http://gov.ca.gov/news.php?id=17659 )

"The State Parks and Recreation Fund is one-time funding that can only be used for one-time costs."

The Governor's "one-time costs" statement above leaves questions.  Operation of the state park system is not a one time cost obviously and is defined as an appropriate use of the SPRF fund, also reflected in California Public Resource Code 5010(f)

The Gov press release also states:

Specifically, Governor Brown called for the $20 million from the State Parks and Recreation Fund (SPRF) to be used to:

• Make critically needed maintenance fixes to keep parks from closing—for example, fixing water and waste treatment facilities that, if left as-is, will cause park closures.
• Establish a matching fund for contributions, so that donors know every dollar they give will go further.

Would all closure parks fit into the category of closure due to a maintenance problem?  If not would those parks quality to receive these surplus funds to save them? 
If Gov Brown's proposal covers keeping ALL 70 closure parks opened and parks like ours aren't in a worse situation than before (Oxnard & Ventura County both want their donations refunded ) then I'm all for it! It appears the Gov has good intentions and is trying to encourage donors to leave $ with the parks and then match it. But McGrath's closure reason repair is fixed now, so not sure where would that leave us?  Would our park get $150k to match that of Mr. Mullin, Oxnard & Ventura County if the Gov persuaded them not to ask for a refund?  Or more rightfully so, will our park receive the funds to accommodate the refund requests? Will our park receive matching funds to whatever we've thrown into the donation bin?

As for the donation bin, personally my small contributions (all in amounts I really don't miss) I'm happy to donate as unlike park user fees I am assured my money is only spent on McGrath.  Personally I would like my donation bin contributions matched as described in the Gov proposal.  But I do believe Ventura County and City of Oxnard need their refunds to meet other community needs-the intention was never to take away from that, this should be considered a "loan" which Mr. Mullin, Oxnard and Ventura County should be thanked for profusely.  Given the size of Mr. Mullin's generous donation made under false pretense he should get a refund if he so desires.

One thing for sure, in the next few years the budget problem will come back to bite our parks again, it's not over.  Something to remember through all of this.  We are winning the "battle" but not the "war" I'm afraid.

I guess we will see what happens. There is no formal petition on this issue or professional analysis of the Gov proposal as of this writing. But individuals could write or call their legislatures (who are in charge of deciding how the "found" $ will be used) and comment on using the surplus SPRF funds in the amount of $20.3 for state parks in an appropriate way given the fact the "found" money should have been "found" a year ago and should have been used to make up for the $22 million park cuts saving the 70 parks from closure in the first place. And comment on anything you agree with above, disagree with or care to add.  Contact info for your legislatures can be found at http://www.leginfo.ca.gov/yourleg.html

Santa Clara River Estuary Preserve trail

Click here to see more photos of the Santa Clara Estuary Natural Preserve at McGrath.

California Quail

McGrath Beach

But always remember the CA budget crisis won't go away anytime soon, our State Parks need long term reliable funding.  Read about it on VC Star http://www.vcstar.com/news/2011/dec/29/sewer-work-at-mcgrath-will-start-in-january/ and see the Save Our Parks website.  So our Save McGrath State Beach Facebook page will also continue, please Like us on Facebook :) 

For McGrath we've come up with our own "version" of long term funding...the contingent fund & donation bin at the front gates will continue even though the park is saved.  This will help with ongoing park maintenance.  Besides repairing the sewerline and pump station, this fund has already paid for all new sinks, mirrors, toilets, bathroom & shower partitions and new paint--plus paint, repairs and new native landscaping by the visitor center and kiosk at the front gates (see the Facebook photo gallery "Before & After Contingency Fund Repairs".  So when you camp at McGrath if you like (even given the scandal in Sacramento) throw in maybe a dollar in the bin when you check in.  300,000 visitors a year donating only a dollar each would really add up and make a huge difference.

McGrath Contingency Fund Donation Bin at the front gates

Firewood sales sign at a camp hosts site (click pic to enlarge)

Something to note, we have two separate donation funds for McGrath:
1) the contingent fund/donation bin for maintenance that can only be spent on McGrath and 
2) donations to
Friends of Channel Coast State Parks for the educational programs at McGrath and all other state parks in the Channel Coast District.  Please note this organization is not part of state parks, you can bet your donations will go directly to the educational program effort. 

One way to help Friends educational programs, when you buy firewood at McGrath from a camp host you are donating to park educational programs.  Buy it where you burn it :) 

Save McGrath Effort History

Spring 2011 -- the decision to close 70 California State Parks was made public. A closure park list was released to the press...and oh no, McGrath was on it. Some parks were scheduled to close in 2011 (McGrath was in that category), others were scheduled to close July 1, 2012....and we had only about 3 months before McGrath closed to do something.

The initial news of McGraths closure can still be seen here, video and article by ABC, April 14th, 2011:  http://abclocal.go.com/kabc/story?section=news/local/ventura_county&id=8072521

McGrath was scheduled to close down September 6th 2011 at noon due to lack of funds to fix an aging sewage line...a $500k repair.  Basically this problem condemned the park, the main reason it was added to the State Parks closure list along with 69 other parks.  

However our campaign to bring awareness to the issue and express both local and out of town interest in keeping McGrath opened was a huge success!!!  In Sept 2011 McGrath was even given an extra two months to remain opened past the original planned closure date, which you can read about here:  http://www.vcstar.com/news/2011/aug/30/mcgrath-state-beach-to-remain-open-at-least-2/

Elected officials from all levels (City of Oxnard, County of Ventura, State Assemblyman Das Williams and State Senator Fran Pavley) gave a tremendous outpour of support in our efforts.  Check out this video of the rally for McGrath:  http://www.keyt.com/news/local/Rally-To-Save-Mcgrath-State-Beach-128499373.html   

9/9/2011 Ventura County Star article "Local leaders pushing for $200,000 in public funding to save McGrath park"


2011 news articles:

Aug 2011, reader submitted story "Rally to Save" (about the park closure and 2011 grant contest, Save McGrath Cindy wrote & submitted the article)


Aug 16, 2011 Deal aims to keep open McGrath State Beach


ABC New Video, Summer 2011, about the park closure & our effort to save, Save McGrath SB FB page creator Chris Culver and several other Save McGrath Members interviewed.


Aug 11, 2011, "Supervisor Pitches Idea to Keep McGrath State Beach Open"


Aug 10th, 2011 "Online Effort Underway To Save McGrath State Beach Park" article and video, Save McGrath FB creator Chris Culver appears, promoting McGrath in the 2011 park grant contest:


Aug 5th, 2011 "As closure looms, McGrath State Beach looks to become America's favorite park"


2011 Radio Interview about McGrath


Nov 29th, 2011 "$250,000 Federal Grant Expected To Help Save Popular State Beach In Ventura County From Closure"


Nov 29th, 2011 "McGrath State Beach Funding" article & video about McGrath receiving the $250,000 federal grant


Congresswoman Lois Capp's official press release on the $250k grant approval for McGrath:   http://capps.house.gov/press-release/capps-announces-federal-funding-mcgrath-state-beach and article on VCStar:  http://www.vcstar.com/news/2011/nov/29/key-grant-awarded-to-save-mcgrath-state-beach/

Merry Xmas for McGrath!  Dec 2011, the final $50k needed was donated.  This was the big one, without the funds to fix the sewage line McGrath would have been another state parks budget cut casualty had it not been for the generosity of Mr. Mullin of Mullin Automotive Museum in Oxnard, who donated the remaining $50k.  Plus the County of Ventura and City of Oxnard for their generous $50k each contributions.  And State Parks...and of course all of us!  You can read about Mr. Mullin and the donations here:  http://www.vcstar.com/news/2011/dec/07/peter-mullin-introduced-as-private-donor-who-is/  

Last September (McGrath's original budget cut closure date was 9/6/11) McGrath was granted 2 extra months to stay opened due to overwhelming support from other agencies, the community and people who camp at the park. But Mother Nature with the rains on Oct 4th/5th closed the park a few weeks early cutting our extra 2 months a little short.  The sewage line & pump station repairs were made, while waiting for the flood waters to reside.  The unique thing about McGrath, you are literally camping in a seasonal wetland.  Although we don't like to see the park close for any reason, the river is doing exactly what rivers are supposed to do and the river is why you see the variety of critters and birds at McGrath so it is kind of a good thing :)

Events (McGrath Contingency Fund donation drives by local businesses):

Jolly Oyster:

Tasty way to help (from Sept 24th to Oct 31st 2011):

Go to the Jolly Oyster at San Buena Ventura State Beach, tell them "Ranger Jelly sent me".  Buy at least 1 dozen Kumamoto Oysters ($14.40 per dozen). For every dozen sold, $4.40 will be donated by the Jolly Oyster to the McGrath State Beach Contingency fund! 

Escape Luxury Salon:

Will donate up to 30% of any hair service done by Stacey Jolls-Casey

during the month of October 2011 when you mention this FB page.

August 2011 sunset at McGrath

Campsite #41


August, 2011


Turkey Vultures on the beach

Why isn't McGrath on the reservation system in Sept 2012?

End of the summer season, beginning of flood season (McGrath is a seasonal campground).  Starting Sept. campsites are first come first serve.  See the Winter photo gallery on Facebook and read the photo comments for more info.

Why the campground floods interpretive sign (click to enlarge)

McGrath in the Winter Flood Season
Campsite #41, during the flood season, January 2012

Link List
Photo Galleries and some other interesting stuff we've shared on our Facebook Page -- in case you missed the post or can't find it again, list serves as an "index"

"McGrath's Army Takes Back the Beach", Bay Nature article about the Save McGrath effort
The above is just one part of special section on
people saving parks (which hard copies can be purchased from Bay Nature

Before and After Contingency Fund Repairs" photo gallery

2012 Earth Day McGrath Beautification Day
--Article on VCStar
--Save McGrath Facebook Gallery "McGrath Beautification Day - 4/21/12"
--Press Release on the beautification event

"A Normal Winter at McGrath" (Pictures of the flood that happens every year, naturally rivermouths don't stay in one spot, they meander and flood then reside in warm months.)

What happens when the flood waters reside at McGrath?  The sandbar across the estuary/rivermouth breaks of course.  Wonder what that looks like?  Check out the video and photo gallery below
-- "Sandbar Breach, 3-20-12" photo gallery by Ranger Jelly
-- Video "The might santa clara finally gets reaquainted with the pacific!" by Ranger Jelly
-- more videos by Ranger Jelly

"Santa Clara Estuary Natural Preserve" photo gallery, beautiful trail through riparian/streamside woodland habitat, trail head is by the day use/overflow parking lot

"McGrath State Beach Wildlife" photo gallery -- walking the beach trail, the estuary preserve or even on the beach you never know what you might see

"Trail to the beach" photos -- this trail begins at the day use/overflow parking near the front gates and wraps around the park traveling next to the estuary and between the beach dunes & campground

"The Beach, Dunes, Rivermouth & Lake" photo gallery

"Sunsets and Sunrises" photo gallery

"The Campgrounds" photo gallery

Save McGrath's photos of news crews in the park (before the park was saved):
--KYET Ch 3 News Interview, 8/10/11
--KABC Ch 7 News Internew, 8/12/11
--Official Press Conference, 8/26/11

"Santa Clara River Estuary & Rivermouth Beach" photos
  (next beach up the coast on opposite side of river from McGrath)
  -- Ventura Harbor Dredge photos

Wonder what the Santa Clara River looks like upstream from McGrath State Beach?  It is beautiful!
"Santa Clara River Tour with NFY" photo gallery on CAopenspace's FB page

Who to Contact:

About closing state parks is not a good idea, email and Phone number California Governor Jerry Brown: 

Find your California State Representatives Contact info, ask for support of any legislation that will help save state parks: 

Who to thank:

City of Oxnard, Mayor & City Council: 

County of Ventura, Supervisor John Zaragoza

Mr. Mullin, Mullin Automotive Museum, Oxnard

California State Parks, Channel Coast District:  805-585-1850

Senator Fran Pavley -District SD23: http://dist23.casen.govoffice.com/index.asp?Type=B_BASIC&SEC={8C364E2F-E1B4-4AFB-9C85-19DE36BC03DD}

Assemblymember Das Williams:  http://asmdc.org/members/a35/35th-district-map/35-district-map

Petitions to sign:

Take action with California State Parks Foundation, more info:  http://www.calparks.org/ 

Petition to urge your State Senator to support Assembly Bill 1589 (Huffman), the California State Parks Stewardship Act of 2012 -- the senate makes a decision on this soon (6/26/12 I believe)

Current status of SB 580 -- it did not make through Assembly.  But it may go back on the table next year :(
Senate Bill 580 stipulates that state park lands cannot be used for non-park purposes, this bill is currently in the Assembly Water, Parks & Wildlife Committee, petition to legislatures to vote it in (would help prevent closed parks from becoming another development hopefully).  It would be a good idea to call your California Assemblymember in case the target of this petition hasn’t been updated as it was originally mailed to the senate:


Current status of AB 42, Gov. Brown signed it.  Please call Gov Browns office at 916-445-2841 and say "thank you for signing AB 42 into law"
This bill will help closed state parks stay opened.
CSPF is sponsoring AB 42 with Assemblymember Jared Huffman (D-Marin) to allow nonprofit organizations to help take a direct role in helping prevent park closures. The bill allows DPR to enter into operating agreements for the improvement, restoration, care, maintenance, administration, or operation of a unit or units of the state park system with qualified nonprofit organizations.  Find out more about AB42 here:  http://www.calparks.org/press/2011/california-state-parks-foundation-urges-statewide-action-in-light-of-looming-park-closures.html

Please also support saving all California State closure parks, more info at http://www.caopenspace.org/action.html and the Save Our Parks website