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As Valley-area campers have discovered this summer, the one thing that is more difficult than getting reservations at a state campground is getting through to the company that takes the reservations over the phone. "It's almost impossible," Carol Hayward of Van Nuys said. "The line was busy all the time. I must have made more than 50 calls before I finally got through. It was very frustrating and maddening."
March 14, 2014 | By Irene Lechowitzky, Special to the Los Angeles Times
Welcome to Borrego Springs, Calif., population 3,400, in the middle of nowhere (actually, about 150 miles southeast of L.A.). Throw away the smartphone; this is a place to unplug. This designated Dark Sky Community offers breathtaking views of the stars at night. The days aren't too shabby either, as my husband and I learned on a late February getaway. Be sure to stop at the Anza-Borrego Desert State Park Visitor Center (200 Palm Canyon Drive; [760] 767-4205,
March 28, 2013
Re "State urged to give up some parks," March 26 The public and its elected and appointed representatives should be very cautious about relinquishing control or ownership of California's state parks to other groups or agencies, as recommended by a government oversight group. The parks are part of our common heritage; they belong to the people. What guarantees are there that cities, counties, regional agencies or other organizations can manage the state parks better? Maybe with renewed attention and interest from the governor and others, the state itself can do a better job. Daniel Fink Beverly Hills Until the California Department of Parks and Recreation ceases to be primarily a law enforcement agency, no real change can occur.
March 12, 2014 | By Richard Verrier
When the producers of “Last Days in the Desert” needed an environment for their biblical allegory, they knew just where to travel. They headed 31/2 hours southeast of Los Angeles to one of the largest state parks in the country. Spanning 600,000 acres, hundreds of miles of dirt roads and a dozen wilderness areas, Anza-Borrego Desert State Park has been an attractive, if underused, film location, featured in such movies as Warren Beatty's “Bugsy” and the Universal Pictures action film “The Scorpion King.” But the producers behind “Last Days in the Desert” liked the park so much that they opted to shoot all 24 days in the vast wilderness, which is named after 18th century Spanish explorer Juan Bautista de Anza.
April 25, 2013 | By Karin Klein
The California state parks system is pretty clueless about parking -- which, strange to say, is kind of an important issue for it these days because it's how we pay to get in and how it gets a lot of its money. Much of the time, at many of the parks, there's no one around to collect parking fees and no iron ranger for visitors to pay. At the same time, the fees for entering the most popular of the parks have reached the stage -- $10 to $15 a day -- at which repeat visits get a little painful to the wallet.
August 20, 2011
Care for a Coke with that tree? In the absence of revenue and the political will to keep all of California's 278 state parks open, 70 are scheduled to close. Cutbacks in maintenance and basic services should be expected at most of the rest. One partial solution, according to the Department of Parks and Recreation, is to allow some corporate logos in the parks as well as limited private management agreements. And though these options might conjure up a mountain range's worth of slippery slopes, they're better than the alternative.
May 1, 2012 | By Mary Forgione, Los Angeles Times Daily Travel & Deal blogger
If you didn't buy an annual California state parks pass yet, prepare to shell out a bit more. The new price of $195 - a $70 leap - goes into effect today (Tuesday). The California Department of Parks and Recreation hopes to generate $1 million to $1.5 million by raising the prices of state park passes, according to a statement. The popular Vehicle Day Use Annual Pass that allows access to all 279 state parks for a year jumps from $125 to $195; the Golden Poppy Vehicle Day Use Pass good at selected parks for a year increases from $90 to $125, and the Boat Use Pass (Sticker)
March 11, 2011 | By Mary Forgione, Los Angeles Times Deal & Travel blogger
Campers were evacuated from park campgrounds from Ventura to Crescent City early Friday in response to the tsunami warning for the California coast triggered by the Japanese earthquake. Beaches in Los Angeles and Orange counties also were closed. The California Department of Parks and Recreation issued a statement about the closures. Near Crescent City , where 8-foot waves battered the city's harbor, campgrounds at Usal and Bear Harbor in the Sinkyone Wilderness area were evacuated and closed.
June 1, 2011 | By Richard Verrier, Los Angeles Times
More than a dozen California state parks that have been a rich source of filming for such classic Hollywood movies as "High Noon," George Lucas' "Star Wars" sequel "Return of the Jedi" and Steven Spielberg's "Back to the Future III" are in danger of going dark. They are among 70 state parks, historic sites and recreation areas — or 25% of the 278 parks statewide — that Gov. Jerry Brown has proposed closing in response to the state's budget crisis. The planned closings, which are part of the $33 million in park cuts approved by the Legislature this year, are likely to be the subject of intense upcoming budget negotiations in Sacramento.
July 12, 1999
Re "Years of Neglect Take Big Toll on State Parks," July 3: Perhaps the state parks system should take a look at the city of Huntington Beach. Fifteen years ago, we all witnessed the phenomenon of "corporate sponsorships" when Peter Ueberroth performed his magic in making the Los Angeles Summer Olympics end up with a profit. Huntington Beach recently followed suit. Its beaches and parks are now being improved and maintained by Coca-Cola. In return, Coca-Cola is allowed to display its logo on public park and beach facilities; plus the soft drink vending machines at these sites will contain Coca-Cola products only.
March 1, 2014 | By Cindy Chang
Four hikers were stranded between two rain-swollen waterways in Malibu Creek State Park on Saturday night as rescuers attempted to reach them. Because of the stormy weather, a helicopter could not access the area, which is near the 1900 block of Las Virgenes Road between a rock pool and a creek, said Michael Pittman, a supervising dispatcher for the Los Angeles County Fire Department. The hikers, who called for help about 7 p.m., are not in danger, but a search-and-rescue team was expected to take four or five hours to bring them out of the canyon.
October 18, 2013 | By Matt Hamilton
Dave Hall didn't think twice about posting a video he recorded of a fellow Boy Scout leader toppling an ancient rock formation in a Utah state park. The mushroom-shaped rock - one of thousands in Goblin Valley State Park that have formed over millions of years - was loose. Hall, along with fellow Scout leader Glenn Taylor, feared that tragedy might befall a hiker. “The whole park was created because of erosion,” Hall told the Los Angeles Times on Friday. “The rock had eroded to the point where it would fall very soon.” Hall posted the video on Facebook, but it went viral.
October 11, 2013 | By Melanie Mason and Hugo Martín
California officials aren't biting when it comes to an offer by the  Obama administration to use state money to reopen national parks closed by the federal government shutdown. The Interior Department announced Thursday that it would consider reopening parks if states pledged to foot the bill for now-furloughed National Park Service personnel. In the immediate aftermath of the shutdown, state tourism industries with strong ties to national parks were deeply impacted . Weddings were canceled, family trips cut short and local businesses dependent on tourists suffered.
October 9, 2013 | By Evan Halper
WASHINGTON - Those in power are fond of saying that a crisis shouldn't be allowed to go to waste. But as the government shutdown continues to spread malaise across the country, it's not congressional leaders who are seizing that mantra but entrepreneurs. For a select group, the shutdown has become a valuable marketing tool. They are scrambling to make lemonade out of the lemons Congress has lobbed at the American public. A large insurance company that has a boutique operation selling wedding policies is warning jittery brides and grooms to take note of all those weddings that got unexpectedly canceled at national parks.
October 3, 2013 | By Mary Forgione, Daily Deal and Travel Blogger
State parks and towns adjacent to Yosemite National Park have a message for Californians: We're open for business. The government shutdown of national parks, forests, memorials and monuments that began Tuesday inadvertently has driven folks away from outdoor areas unaffected by the federal action. "Most people don't know the difference between a national park and a state park," John Koeberer, chief executive of California Parks Co., which operates concessions in national and state parks, said in a statement Wednesday.
October 2, 2013 | By Richard Verrier
The park is named after the late actor and conservationist Leo Carrillo, who played the comic sidekick Pancho in the 1950s Western TV series "The Cisco Kid. " Located along Pacific Coast Highway near the Los Angeles-Ventura County line, it has doubled for Iwo Jima, the Caribbean and Hawaii. For six decades, Leo Carrillo State Park has been one of the most popular beaches, not only for Los Angeles residents but for location scouts. PHOTOS: Hollywood Backlot moments From "Grease" to "Pirates of the Caribbean" and "Letters From Iwo Jima," the scenic stretch of beach has been featured in countless movies, TV shows and commercials.
July 25, 2012
Californians are feeling betrayed after learning that the Department of Parks and Recreation, while pleading abject poverty and begging for donors to keep 70 state parks from closing, was hoarding nearly $54 million in special accounts, underreporting its holdings to the state. Much of the money was earmarked for specific purposes, but even the remainder is enough to keep the 70 parks open for close to two years. Some of the donors who generously stepped forward to form nonprofits to run parks complain that they were duped.
September 18, 2013 | By Chris Megerian
SACRAMENTO -- An independent commission with the task of examining the future of California's troubled park system held its first public hearing on Wednesday. The commission, called Parks Forward, was created by the Legislature in the wake of an accounting scandal at the Department of Parks and Recreation last year. In addition, the department has struggled to maintain its network of 280 parks covering 1.7 million acres. Officials said they would seek new ways to bring revenue and visitors to parks while maintaining their natural beauty.
September 11, 2013 | By Hailey Branson-Potts
The Morgan fire at Mt. Diablo State Park in Northern California was 70% contained on Wednesday, and officials said they hoped to have it fully contained by Friday. An estimated 3,133 acres have burned so far, said Tina Rose, a spokeswoman for the California Department of Forestry and Fire Protection. The fire, which was first reported Sunday afternoon, spread rapidly because of steep terrain and dry conditions, Rose said.  “It's hard to keep a fire under control when it's bone-dry because the slightest little wind is going to spread the fire,” Rose said.
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