A new investigation has discovered that the California Parks and Recreation Department kept nearly $54 million in surplus funds hidden for almost 12 years, even while budget cuts threatened to close parks across the state. Parks and Rec director Ruth Coleman resigned this morning after the Sacramento Bee revealed her department had kept the funds hidden from the state Finance Department over the course of the past two gubernatorial administrations.

The Sacramento Bee dug up the scandalous data while looking in to allegations of a secret vacation buyout program for employees of the State Parks department last year. While the secretary of the Natural Resources Agency told the Bee it is still unclear who is to blame for sitting on the funds, secretary John Laird said Coleman — the longest serving director in the department's 150-year history of the department — stepped up to take personal responsibility.

Along with Coleman, Governor Jerry Brown fired acting chief deputy director Michael Harris. To lift the blame from his own administration, Brown quickly appointed Natural Resources Agency Undersecretary Janelle Beland as the interim Parks and Rec director.

The surplus money apparently came from the Parks and Rec fund as well as the Off Highway Vehicle fund, which are the two biggest operating funds for the Natural Resources Agency. It is also currently unclear why the department sat on the funds while moving forward with the closure of 70 state parks. Although nonprofits and local governments moved in to take over many of the threatened parks, the missing $54 million could have spared jobs and service cutbacks that are currently limiting parks around the state.

Moving forward, Laird said the state legislature will have the responsibility of figuring out how to use the newfound funds.