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Salton Sea State Recreation Area, once slated for closure, gets reprieve

The Salton Sea State Recreation Area, once slated for closure by July 1, has gotten a reprieve after an aggressive fundraising effort by volunteers.

"We're very encouraged," said Bill Meister, president of the Sea and Desert Interpretive Assn. The recreation area, once one of the most popular public parks in the state, was scheduled to close because of the state's fiscal crisis and a dwindling number of visitors.

But Meister and others garnered $130,000 to keep the recreation area from a permanent closure,  including $35,000 from the Imperial Irrigation District and $30,000 from the Coachella Valley Water District. The money will be turned over to the state.

Meister said his group is still in discussions with the state parks system about the future of the recreation area.

One alternative, Meister said, would be a closure during the hottest part of the year, mid-July to October, when the number of visitors plummets. But that is better than a year-round closure, he said.

A closure by July 1, with no prospect of reopening, could have meant the permanent end to the recreation area because, unlike other state parks, the land is owned by the federal government. The federal government was expected to reclaim the property, cart off the picnic benches and dismantle the visitors' center and museum.


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--Tony Perry in San Diego

Photo: A sign outside Salton Sea State Recreation Area when its closure seemed imminent. Credit: Tony Perry / Los Angeles Times


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