With the budget finally released, it looks like our State Park System is, indeed, going to get short-changed.
Governor Schwarzenegger slashed the funds for parks by an additional $6 million, writing (PDF):
In order to create a reasonable reserve, I am making additional reductions so we have resources to address emergencies or additional revenue shortfalls. I know this reduction will likely lead to closure of additional parks but we are facing unprecedented budget challenges and we have limited choices. I am directing the Department to do everything it can to work with local governments, the federal government, community based organizations, and other interested parties who can partner with the state to help mitigate any state park closures.
It’s still very early in the news cycle, and so far I haven’t been able to find anyone who can say definitively which parks are going to have to shut down due to this budget. I’ve seen numbers as low as 5-10 and as high as 100, but the truth is probably that no one really knows yet. Twitter follower Jeff Greene pointed me toward the Twitter account of the Sacramento State House AP Reporter, whose last two tweets are from the California Parks Director Ruth Coleman. They say first that urban beach parks and Hearst Castle are likely safe from closure, and, of course, that she worries any closed parks will be used for illegal marijuana plantations, like the recent $10 million bust in the Santa Monica Mountains.
As more news of the cuts comes out, I’ll keep you posted. Until then, get out and enjoy the State Parks while you still can.
wildflower bloom in Anza-Borrego Desert State Park.