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Surplus Showdown 

Fundraising coordinators ask for refund from State Parks

After July 20 revelations that the California Department of Parks and Recreation had been sitting on a hidden $54 million surplus, local organizations are asking for a refund.

Bike Monkey, a Sonoma County nonprofit cycling-advocacy organization, has taken its complaint to the state, demanding the return of $40,000 raised for state parks last year from the Annadel XC bike race. "We're extremely disappointed in 15 different directions," says Greg Fisher, editor of Bike Monkey magazine. "Public faith and goodwill has been expended."

Proceeds from Bike Monkey's 2012 Annadel XC on Aug. 18 will benefit the Sonoma County Regional Parks system, which took over operations of Annadel on July 1. But Fisher says that fundraising efforts for a state park system that evidently did not need the help has damaged credibility.

"Last year, the budget enclosure news came down and upped the dire component of the event," he says. "It sold out after that. Everyone cared that mountain bikers could contribute to the park; a lot of steam has been taken out of that by this revelation."

Bike Monkey has only recently begun the process of asking for a return of monies by going through administrative channels. Fisher says the intent isn't to be obnoxious, but rather to plainly and firmly ask for the funds back.

While the state has yet to respond to the request, it'll be interesting to see whether the department returns the funds that could be handed over to the regional parks.

"Whatever entity manages it," says Fisher, "we want to support that entity, because we want to keep it open for mountain bikers."—Leilani Clark

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