Friends of Los Encinos consider how to keep park open

One of the many state parks that are threatened with closure due to California's fiscal problems is in Encino. KPCC's Molly Peterson has more on Los Encinos, which is named for the coast live oak trees that are native to the valley.

Molly Peterson:In the 18th century, Spaniards established the Rancho Los Encinos along El Camino Real, which is now Ventura Boulevard. As a cattle grazing operation, and stopover spot, the rancho along with the mission, became the hub of the San Fernando Valley. Park volunteer Walter Nelson says everything else was wide open space.

Walter Nelson: It is a connection to our past which is very tenuous in Southern California. People don't really have a concept that we have a past. They look at car washes as being historic buildings.

Peterson: Other historic state parks, like Sutter's Fort in Sacramento, could also close. But Nelson appreciates Los Encinos for more than its historical value.

Nelson: It's a serene peaceful safe place with a wonderful duck pond and it's a wonderful place for families to come and bring their children.

Peterson: The park was shuttered before, after the Northridge earthquake 15 years ago. Nelson and other volunteers helped with repairs so the park could reopen. This time, he says they're not sure what to do.

Nelson: It seems the key is really going to have to be finding an alternative revenue source since the state of California can't really be relied on anymore. We need to take ownership of that park. If anyone's going to do it it's going to have to be us.

Peterson: The state is expected to release its final list of park closures after Labor Day. Nelson and other Los Encinos supporters hope to have a strategy for saving their park before then.

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