Surprise $54M won’t impact Auburn recreation areas

Auburn and Folsom state recreation areas won’t benefit from $54 million recently found stashed in California State Parks’ budget.

Local recreation officials said the 25-year partnership between the two recreation areas and the U.S. Bureau of Reclamation that was signed last January prevents any of the newly found money from potentially being allocated to Auburn or Folsom Lake by the governor.

“No, that money will go to the governor to be appropriated, but it should have no impact on Auburn Recreation Area or any of the units associated with the agreement,” said Matt Green, superintendent of the Gold Fields District of State Parks.

That means the recreation areas will continue to be, in Green’s words, “self-sustaining” through revenue it generates partially through fees and supplemental funding it gets from the Bureau of Reclamation. On July 1, new fees were added to parking areas in the Auburn and Folsom Lake state recreation areas or existing fees were increased.

For example, parking along the road in the Auburn State Recreation Area was free before, but on July 1 a $10-per-day fee was imposed in the confluence area and in the Lake Clementine area boat launching fees were also increased to $10.

California State Parks recently found $54 million of unspent money in its budget due to underreporting of funds to the state Department of Finance for the last 12 years, according to a press release by the state Natural Resources Agency.

Roughly $20.3 million of recreation funds and more than $33.4 million off-highway vehicle funds were unused by State Parks, the release stated.

Katy Veling, of Auburn, was enjoying the confluence area near Auburn on Wednesday and said she wishes the $54 million could be used to either lessen or do away with the fees. She even said the new parking fee has kept her away from her favorite swimming spot on the American River.

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