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L.A.-area state parks could be shut down under new budget


At least five state parks in the Los Angeles area, including Pio Pico State Historic Park in Whittier and Los Encinos State Historic Park in Encino, are under consideration for closure as part of an effort to offset budget reductions, officials say.

Located about 45 miles apart, Pio Pico and Los Encinos are regarded as “sister parks” because each features 19th century adobe structures surrounded by more than five acres of manicured lawns, vineyards and shady sycamore, oak and ash trees.

Me2_k3cjk9ncThey also provide thousands of visitors each year — many of them schoolchildren — with an opportunity to learn about the history and culture of California during the times of such historic figures as Pio de Jesus Pico IV, the last governor of “Mexican” California.

“I don’t think the gravity of this situation has sunken in yet with a lot of people,” Sean Woods, superintendent of the Los Angeles sector of the state parks system, said Wednesday. “But the day of reckoning has arrived.”

Me1_koao4ync State officials have said they plan to close 50 to 100 of the 279 state parks, with the list expected to be made public by Labor Day. The state has never before shut down a state park, officials said.

Other state park sites targeted for closure in the Los Angeles area include the 40-acre Rio de Los Angeles State Park in Los Angeles, Santa Susana Pass State Historic Park in Chatsworth and Point Dume State Beach in Malibu.

Also facing shutdown is the 1,900-acre La Purisima Mission State Historic Park, in Lompoc, which was the 11th of 21 Franciscan missions in California. No church services are held at the site.

Tr_jxbpswnc Woods said supporters of these and other state parks were racing to forge partnerships with nonprofits, municipalities, county governments and corporations willing to share resources needed to “make sure the grass is mowed, trees are watered and graffiti is held at bay” in event of closure.

“The sad thing about all this is that it is not clear how much cities and counties can help because they are also being hit by the financial crisis,” said Caroline Schoff, president of the California League of Park Assns. “So we’re also looking at alternative scenarios such as organizing volunteer 'park watch' groups to increase vigilance.”

In the meantime, day-use and camping fees at state parks will more than double next week to generate revenues needed to keep open as many state park facilities as possible, California Department of Parks and Recreation officials said.

Beginning Monday, day-use fees will increase by $2 to $5, and camping fees will increase by $10 to $21 a night, officials said. Camping reservations made prior to that day will be honored at the lower price.

The increases were not expected to raise revenues to a level of self-sustainment for the state park system.

View California parks facing possible closures in a larger map

-- Louis Sahagun in Encino

Photos, from top: Pio Pico State Historic Park in Whittier (Irfan Khan / Los Angeles Times), Point Dume State Beach in Malibu (Allen J. Schaben / Los Angeles Times), Los Encinos State Historic Park in Encino (Mel Melcon / Los Angeles Times), La Purisima Mission State Historic Park in Lompoc (La Purisima Mission).

Comments () | Archives (47)

Day use fees will increase from $2 to $5? I have never seen a $2 day use fee at any park...at least the beach parks. Dume is usually $7 and Leo Carillo is $10. I see more increases along the way. Sad to see Pt Dume closing...its a great spot. MLPA then closing Dume...cut off all access unless you are in the malibu elite!!!!!

If you are not going to put captions on art, don't include the art.

It was bound to happen. I just hope that we can still preserve the closed parks keep out the vandals and one day see them open once again.

California is a joke now. So much for "California's Gold" Who can afford the new fees? Where will the school kids go now? Help Huell Howser! Is this really happening?

This is absurd. What is a state without the state parks showing how beautiful it is, and teaching the history of the area?

Scwarzenegger and the GOP are pining for the past, living with a myopic nostalgia that hinders progress!You know, they want their romanticized West to come back, their manifest destiny to continue. And using God as their justification will prove ruinous! Good luck GOP, you may be controlling the talking points, and screaming absurdities, but most knowledgeable people understand that obstruction and NO are not ways to progress people and society.

Of course you firmly believe that America has somehow lost its way in a mere 6 months - HA! What is really happening is certain people are scared of shifting demographics and increased technologies... I know, scary stuff! Nothing new here, change is slowly occurring, but has been for some time. We are in the midst of great and inevitable progress, albeit kind of slow! But to attempt to stop this, as is the Conservative MO, is pure silliness! It's fun to watch though!

I love the website make-over. Absolutely love it. This article exemplifies what an online newspaper should look like.

Well done.

La Purisma is a great historic park. It would be such a shame if it closed.

The closure of these parks is but a pin prick on the elephant's back side that is our budget. I predict the legislature will come up with the funding at the last minute to bouye their dismal approval ratings. What they need to do is raise the fees (like they are) to generate more revenue. State park camping is ridiculously cheap compared to private campgrounds. The more popular coastal parks could generate more than enough funds to mow the 5 acres at Pio Picos mansion. But, enough of the dog and pony show already.

I'm absolutely certain that those who live in the affluent homes in the vicinity of Point Dume did not use their influence to place this long loved divers paradise, beach area, and movie set at the top of state park shut-down list.

"Pio de Jesus Pico IV, the last governor of 'Mexican' California."

I don't really understand why Mexican is in quotes--Pio Pico was governor of California when it belonged to Mexico. Why the need for the quotes?

Although it is unfortunate, I'm all in favor of more parks forming partnersips with private and corporate sponsorships. Increases in fees to reflect the true costs of maintaining these facilities only makes sense. People will continue to pay to have access to beatiful, well maintained parkland and the parks may as well make a profit while they're at it.

Why are politicians still getting away with stealing from the Country, States, and it's people to benefit their own life? Why are they getting raises? Why aren't they getting pay cuts? Look out... we're going to head right into a depression that's worse than the first one. No one is taking the right steps to move this country into the right direction. The media plays a big role too... the government and media are sticking it to this country in every possible way. It's really sad to witness the downfall of a great nation.... a downfall caused by the negative side of human nature.

Short and inadequate little man Arnold didn't get his way on the oil drilling deal and the sweetheart deal for the stadium in Industry, so he'll show the "little people" by shutting down our parks, just as he threatened.

This third rate punk with an overamped steroid driven ego, is finally managing to make even that micromanaging fool Gray Davis look competent. And, of course this little punk starts by closing the sites that are about the history of our state, lest we remember our greatness, and how far we've fallen with fools like this at the helm.

As usual, all the proposed budget cuts affect quality of life items, including state parks. I have yet to see the list of things the state government is NOT cutting. Now that would no doubt be a an even bigger eye-opener to the public.

We don't have a state park problem. We have a state government problem.

If they really start shutting down state parks I'm moving out of California. This is just the beginning of the stupidity with the "budget". Cali has gone downhill.

That's what happens when politicians are corrupt, unable to enforce laws (illegals) or budget/save.

I used to visit Los Encinos State Park as a child, teenager, and did so as an adult until I moved from the Los Angeles area to Colorado in 1994, at age 39.

Now 53, memories of the serenity I found there during my many years as an abused child and teen, continue to evoke a calmness into my life.

Before moving, I frequently took my daughter Jessica to the park, which inspired a great love of local and state history for her, just as it had done for me. Knowing the history of the missionaries and Spanish settlers from books can only tell a part of the story. Seeing artifacts and documents, structures and furniture, is more than enlightening; it connects you to your past..you can place yourself in the lives of those who gave so much to be community-builders.

Jessica, too, found Los Encinos to be calming and peaceful through her early years that were so challenged because of my divorce, her father's death when she was 13, and the 1994 earthquake, which severely damaged our apartment in Santa Monica. The nervousness and fear that she felt because of daily aftershocks lasting the entire eight months before our move, were quickly quelled by visits to Los Encinos, among a very few locations.

The fact that these supremely important State Parks will be closed--mostly due to improper fiscal management by the state government--is not only upsetting to both me and my daughter, it is shameful. We must also not forget the many State employees whose live will suffer from losing their jobs if the parks close, or the volunteers who give so selflessly to those who visit the parks.

Our children, their children, and all future generations, deserve this amazing connection to their history, which informs and impacts their present so significantly.

In our public schools, we have taken away most opportunities for art, music, civic, social studies and history, sports and physical education. And, with textbooks constantly being re-written to exclude facts and science, as well as to include religion and non-science, our kids have almost no opportunity to have well-rounded, meaningful educations or lives.

We, as tax-payers, as citizens, as families, MUST start protecting our history, not only for history's sake, but for the very sake of our children's future.

Thank you,

Ms. Ar Foster

Fort Collins, Colorado (previously of the 5800 block of Wish Ave. in Encino, CA)

This makes me so unbelievably sad. I depend on Los Encinos as a place for reflection and calm in this bustling city. Without this gem I will be lost each afternoon for a quiet corner of my own.

Thank you, those who voted the Govenator. He really did terminate the budget.

We are taxed five times for each park that we have. It is just a giant drain on the state and does not even come close to paying for its self.

We are taxed when parkland is purchased,
We are taxed when the private land is taken off the general tax rolls.
We are taxed when the public services are installed.
We are taxed again for Park Rangers.
We are taxed again for park improvements

Closr more parks off we can't afford them!

Closing parks is unfair because the parks are free or relatively cheap places to go for the millions of unemployed people. Why don't we put welfare people on the list of people who could "volunteer" their time to watch the parks or mow a lawn. This keeps admission down and a purposeful living for some.

Why not, he's put an axe to everything else that's decent and good. Conan the Barbarian is alive and well.

I'm confused about Point Dume. Are you talking about the nature preserve at Point Dume? Because the beach at Point Dume is run by the county, not the state. Please clarify.

While you're at it: let's keep the bias out of the reporting. The story sets out to prove the value of these parks. Why start there? Why not explain how they were chosen? Is this one of those scare tactics we often see, where you threaten to close something popular in hopes people will rise up to protect it? Or are these really the best parks to close based on some sort of cost-benefit analysis?

I can't believe this! Just having moved to L.A., I've been enjoying exploring the state parks immensely as an escape from the crowded, smoggy city. It is completely absurd that they would chose to cut budgets on something so important which allows people to reconnect to nature, which today's busy population is setting itself away from to tend to their economic worries. These parks function as a release from this stress, and without them are worries will become completely material and saturated in this cold concrete dystopia.

Closing historical sites as well? Might as well just give more funding to the prison system, where we can keep people as far away from nature and anything with any genuine sense of history, to sit confined in heartless buildings.

This aren't places you can close and pray our grandchildren will regain interest and funding. Showing future generations priorities such as these budget cuts on state parks will only perpetuate today's youth's disinterest for nature and history, but hey- who needs that when you've got video games and hundreds of channels of cable!

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