Officials now say only one state park will close
The news keeps getting better for state parks this week.
California officials said Friday that only one of the 70 parks originally slated to close would be shuttered on Sunday. That park, Providence Mountains State Recreation Area in a remote part of San Bernardino County, has been closed since earlier this year.
Just the day before, the state said it would be ceasing operations at five parks because of budget cuts.
"We had the time over the last 24 hours to review operations and were able to determine they could stay open in the very short term –- likely a few weeks," said Richard Stapler, a spokesman for the California Natural Resources Agency. "As you can imagine, it’s a fluid situation, but a positive one, particularly as we hit the height of summer vacation season."
The announcement means four parks that officials said would close on Sunday -- Benicia State Recreation Area, the California Mining and Mineral Museum, Gray Whale Cove State Beach and Zmudowski State Beach -- will in fact keep operating for the time being.
The state is seeking funding agreements with nonprofits, individual donors, private companies or other government agencies.
"If no entity comes forward within the next few weeks to operate those last four, they will be shuttered," Stapler said.
Stapler said lawmakers were able to create some breathing room for parks by appropriating an additional $10 million in the budget signed by Gov. Jerry Brown on Wednesday.
But despite the change, many parks are still operating on borrowed time. The state is in talks to keep another 25 parks open, but no agreements have been finalized.
So far 40 parks have been saved by temporary funding arrangements that are sometimes as short as a year.
-- Chris Megerian in Sacramento
Photo: A park official closes the gate to Providence Mountains State Recreation Area in the Mojave Desert. Credit: Irfan Khan / Los Angeles Times