Group bands together to save native Oklahoman's park

Back in June, CFN alerted its faithful readers to a situation in California: The state's deep fiscal crisis may lead to the closing of a popular state park named after Oklahoma's most famous son. The situation looked bleak, but several groups are coming together to help save the park.

Faced with a $24 billion budget deficit, California lawmakers were looking for anything to stave off a total collapse. The closing of several state parks, including the Will Rogers State Historic Park, were introduced as part of the budget solution.

Criticizing the way the California state parks department has managed Will Rogers Park, a private nonprofit group has come forward and asked to take over the site where Rogers lived for many years. The Los Angeles Times reported members of the Will Rogers Ranch Foundation sent a letter to the state's parks director and argued the current finances of the state "point to the clear need to create new working relationships with organizations such as ours." The letter claims the state has failed in its agreement with the Rogers family, which deeded the site to the state many years ago to maintain the area as a memorial.

The story reported the foundation has partnered with several organizations dedicated to Rogers' legacy, including the Will Rogers Memorial in Claremore, to help run the park.

"We believe that a partnership between the foundation and California State Parks would clearly make sense and would be in the public interest as well as in the best interests of this historic ranch," said Jennifer Rogers-Etcheverry, Will Rogers' great-granddaughter and the foundation's chairwoman.

The park area was the home to Rogers' ranch, where he resided during his days as a Californian. The 187-acre ranch in Pacific Palisades, near Santa Monica Bay, consisted of a 31-room ranch house, a stable, corrals, riding ring, roping arena, polo field, golf course and hiking trails while Rogers and his family lived there. The ranch became a state park after Rogers' wife, Betty, died in 1944. Rogers was killed in a plane crash in 1935.

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