The name Ross is a poetic name for 'Russian.' It was selected from lots placed at the base of an image of Christ bestowed on the settlement when it was dedicated on September 11, 1812. The Spanish sometimes called it Presidio Ruso or Presidio de Bodega.
In 2009 the park was under the risk of being closed due to state budget cuts. Russian ambassador Sergey Ivanovich Kislyak petitioned in favor of the park, but Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger promised nothing. On June 22, 2010, a memorandum of understanding between the Renova Group of Companies and the State of California, and between Renova Group and Fort Ross Conservancy (then the Fort Ross Interpretive Association) was signed in San Francisco in the presence of Russian President Dmitry Medvedev "to affirm a partnership to support and promote the preservation of California's Fort Ross State Historic Park, and to raise awareness of its historical and cultural significance." The threatened park closures were ultimately avoided by cutting hours and maintenance system-wide.