Support for regional parks grows

Support for Sonoma County's regional parks has reached new heights, with significant increases in annual pass purchases, revenue from day use and donations to sustain operations.

The surge has been credited in part to a revitalized promotion campaign that's sought to rebrand county parks as part of a wider, popular network of local open space.

Officials said the result is that a park system described just two years ago in a county report as "somewhat outdated" and "invisible to the general public and its partners" is now drawing more users, volunteers and sponsors, including businesses, community groups and individuals.

"Our improved marketing strategy has paid off," said Regional Parks Director Caryl Hart, whose department oversees 49 parks, including trails and open spaces that encompass about 58,000 acres.

In a report last week to the county Board of Supervisors, Hart listed improvements made to that system in the past two years. She also detailed challenges that remain, foremost among them a $17 million maintenance backlog.

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