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About 50 state parks could be shuttered, budget report says

July 23, 2009 |  4:29 pm

About 50 state parks could close as a result of budget cuts that the state Legislature will consider later today, according to an Assembly report prepared for lawmakers.

Legislators are preparing to vote on an $8-million reduction in state park funds. Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger had earlier proposed a cut of $70 million, which would have shuttered some 220 parks, but lawmakers rejected that plan.

“It’s a certainty some parks will close with these reductions,” said Roy Stearns, a spokesman for the Department of Parks and Recreation. “What we don’t know is what parks and where.”

Stearns, whose department will prioritize which  parks remain open, said those with the lowest attendance would be the most likely to close. Stearns said the department would also consider geography “so we don’t unnecessarily hurt any area.”

It may not be feasible to close some of California’s more sprawling parks, Stearns said.

He said the department was familiar with the estimated 50-park closure figure, but that it was too early to “know if that’s a reasonable number…. It could be 30.”

The final tally could depend of potential support from local communities, the federal government, businesses and the public,

The Schwarzenegger administration stressed that it is “working on ways like public-private partnerships to keep as many open as possible,” said Lisa Page, a spokeswoman for the governor.

—Shane Goldmacher in Sacramento