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Gov. Jerry Brown has appointed Natural Resources Agency Undersecretary Janelle Beland acting interim director of the California Parks and Recreation Department, after officials learned the department sat on nearly $54 million in surplus money for as long as 12 years, even as state park closures were ordered.

State Parks Director Ruth Coleman resigned this morning, and her second in command, acting chief deputy director Michael Harris, was fired.

The Natural Resources Agency sought in a release to shift blame from the Brown administration, saying underreporting occurred "over the course of two prior gubernatorial administrations." It said the state Attorney General's Office is investigating, while Brown has ordered reviews be conducted by the Department of Finance and Natural Resources Agency John Laird.

"I welcome Governor Brown's swift action to address these hidden assets," Laird said in a prepared statement. "We will get to the bottom of this situation and work with the Attorney General, the Legislature and the Department of Finance to make sure nothing like this ever happens again."

He added, "We will also work with the Legislature to see how this money can be used to mitigate park closures."


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