The LAist got its hands on some concrete information from California State Parks Director Ruth Coleman on the recent passed budget, and it’s pretty shocking.
According to her, with all of the money-shuffling, fund-raiding, furloughs, and reduced tax revenues in the 09-10 budget, California’s State Parks are actually getting short-changed by about $39 million, which will almost definitely guarantee a list of park closures that’s more on the high end of the spectrum.
Coleman did not say if any parks were closing, and won’t for at least a month, but she did say that parks that are already self-funding or turning a profit will stay open. All camping reservations at State Parks will be honored through Labor Day, but after that – who knows?
Revenues from parking, entrance, and camping fees will make a huge difference – which spells bad news for Anza-Borrego Desert State Park. The largest state park in the lower 48 – and one of this site’s favorite hiking and camping areas – doesn’t charge entry fees and allows free camping in the backcountry and undeveloped sites. That makes it an incredibly open and accessible park, but also puts a giant red bullseye on it for budgetary purposes.
Next year, State Parks may face an additional $22 million cut, which is just plain horrible.
Coleman encouraged concerned citizens to start supporting their parks now, either through local, focused, non-profits (like Anza-Borrego’s Anza-Borrego Foundation) or by donating or volunteering directly. Any help you can give to one park means another park on the chopping block might be saved.
Here is an embedded statement from the California Department of Parks and Recreation, which shows exactly where the extra cuts and losses come from.
***updated – fixed link to Anza-Borrego Foundation