Calif. parks money once lost now found

(CBS News) LOS ANGELES_ Residents of cash-strapped California are welcoming the news late this week that 70 state parks have been saved from the chopping block. At the same time, they're questioning why the parks were ever in jeopardy in the first place. We take a look into a high-stakes case of lost-and-found.

The preserved home of Mexico's last governor of California sits within one of the parks to be closed. Carolyn Schoff has worked to preserve this for nine years.

"This is our history. If we let it close, it's gonna fall down. We're gonna lose it," she said.

April Blanchard-Hunt home schools her three children and likes to take them and their friends to parks like this to teach California history. When she heard about the closures, she made it a civics lesson. The children raised money to help keep the parks open.

"We've done a car wash, we've done two bake sales," said Blanchard-Hunt. "We started a Facebook page which the kids did themselves."

Her 11-year-old daughter Dakota went door to door asking for money. "It's not always easy, that' for sure," she said about what she had learned.

They raised $500. People all over the state raised money.

It was all good except for one thing. It turned out that California's parks were not completely broke. An audit turned up $54 million, more than twice the amount of money that would have been saved by closing the 70 parks.

On Friday, the state announced it had discovered more than a quarter-billion dollars in dormant accounts, feeding taxpayer suspicion that there's always hidden money in government.

"It certainly does put a shadow over our ability to raise funds in the future, that's true," said Schoff.

Dakota acknowledged she was a little misled by the grown-ups. "It would have been nice if they told us earlier."

But they did learn something about how government works -- and sometimes doesn't. As for now, the 70 parks will stay open.