Coe Park Preservation Fund

  On May 13th, 2011 the Department of Parks and Recreation (DPR) released a list of 70 state parks that will be permanently closed to the public as a direct result of the $22 million budget-cut enacted by Governor Jerry Brown and the Legislature earlier this year. Although other park closure lists have been released since 2009 in response to previous budget-cut proposals, this is the first time in the 100 year history of California's state park system that state park closures will be implemented. Henry W. Coe State Park is one of the parks on that permanent closure list.

The Coe Park Preservation Fund (CPPF) is committed to keeping Coe Park open. Existing state employee contracts make it unlikely that any State Parks will be shuttered before July 2012. That gives the CPPF a narrow window within which to raise at least $300,000, enough to keep the park open and staffed for one year. Realistically, we will need to raise much more than that since the current budget crisis is unlikely to end any time soon. Keeping Coe Park open for three years will require more than $900,000, and an endowment fund sufficient to insulate Coe Park from future budget woes for more than ten years will require more than $3,000,000.

These are difficult goals, but the CPPF is confident that the generosity of Bay Area of corporations, foundations and citizens will help make our efforts successful. Working together, the Bay Area community can keep this unique park open and accessible.

With seventy State Parks facing closure, what makes Coe Park special? That is a good question, and here are some compelling answers:

  • Covering more than 135 square miles — nearly three times the size of San Francisco — Coe Park is the largest California State Park north of San Diego County.
  • According to the latest statistics from the Department of Parks and Recreation, Coe Park contains 6.6% of all the land, 7.4% of all non-motorized trails and only 0.2% of the permanent employees in the State Park System.
  • Coe Park's rugged mountains, steep valleys, forests and wild flower filled meadows preserve California's hills and wildlife as they have been for more than 150 years.
  • Coe Park's unrivaled size, and its network of hundreds of miles of trails provide a unique opportunity for Bay Area residents to escape — to challenge themselves, and contemplate nature.
  • Coe Park's watersheds flow into San Francisco Bay, Monterey Bay and the Central Valley making it a crucial part of the region's water supply.
  • If closed to the public, Coe Park would remain open for poachers and drug cartel-backed marijuana growers, threatening the environment, regional water quality, and the safety of Coe Park's neighbors.
  • Reducing the size of Cal Fire crews and eliminating ranger patrols and routine maintenance of Coe Park's fire roads, will endanger both park neighbors, and surrounding communities.
  • Closing Coe Park will result in the termination of several educational programs including those targeting at-risk teens.
  • Closing Coe Park to save money is false economy. The loss of two park rangers would also mean the loss of ten man-years of work contributed by Coe Park's uniformed volunteers each year.
  • A vacant State Park would become "attractive nuisance", inviting costly lawsuits. A few injured trespassers could burden the state with lawsuits that would easily consume all the "savings" realized from park closures. In March Gov. Brown signed a bill, AB 95, that proposes to absolve the state from liability if a person in a closed park is injured or causes damage. However, this law will likely fail when it is inevitably tested in court.
  • California's projected deficit for 2012 is more than $26 billion. Closing Coe Park would lower the deficit by roughly one thousandth of one percent — less than a rounding error.
  • Coe Park has grown from Sada Coe's original gift of 12,230 acres in the 1950s to its current size of 87,000 acres through tax payer funded-acquisition of neighboring ranches from willing sellers. In return, Californians expected that these lands would remain available for public access. Shuttering Coe Park is a violation of public trust, a trust that until now has remained unviolated for more than a century.


Without your help, Henry W. Coe State Park will be closed in July 2012. For more information on how you can help the CPPF keep Coe Park open, please visit our "How To Help" page.