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Californians rallying to prevent closures of state parks--will it help?

A deer perks its ears in the presence of a hiker in Topanga State Park, which is on the list of parks slated for closure if funding cuts are made.

These are sad and crazy times for millions who enjoy parks. There is some good news: The National Park Service has announced it is offering three free weekends at more than 100 national parks, the first of which is Father's Day weekend, June 20-21.

But in California there's mostly depressing news, as 220 state parks, reserves and beaches still face closure because of Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger's plan to eliminate funding to help alleviate a $24.3-billion budget deficit.

Ironically, this is occurring at a time the governor is pressing forward--for the time being, anyway--with the Marine Life Protection Act Initiative, which establishes an extensive network of marine parks along the California coast. The state has private funding for the process of establishing those parks, but it remains unclear where funding will come from thereafter, for enforcement and studies to determine whether the no-fishing parks are helping fisheries recover, as intended.

But that's a separate issue. As for the land parks, Californians are rallying to prevent them from being closed. More than 84,000 letters of opposition to the funding cuts have been sent to legislators and/or the governor, according to Elizabeth Goldstein, president of the California State Parks Foundation. The Legislature probably will deliberate on the issue and make committee-level recommendations next week.

The governor plans to cut core funding for 279 parks in half (by $70 million) by July 1. And during the next fiscal year he intends to cut all funding. The cuts must be approved by the Legislature.

"We're still encouraging people to send letters but right now we're in a waiting mode," Goldstein said.

A pelican glides in for a landing Malibu Lagoon State Park, which also is on the list of parks to be closed.

That's not exactly true. The California State Parks Foundation is compiling economic data to try to show how damaging closures would be to communities that rely on parks for tourism. (The L.A. Times ran an op-ed piece on the issue Tuesday, touching on economic and other ramifications if parks are closed.)

Cal Parks also is compiling statistics on trash cleanup within state parks to show what dumps they'd likely become if gates were closed to law-abiding citizens.

"We want people to visualize how much litter will gather if nobody's picking it up over the next  two years," she said. "The answer is a lot."

--Pete Thomas

Top photo: A deer perks its ears in the presence of a hiker in Topanga State Park, which is on the list of parks slated for closure if funding cuts are made. Credit: Pete Thomas / Los Angeles Times

Bottom photo: A pelican glides in for a landing Malibu Lagoon State Park, which also is on the list of parks to be closed. Credit: Ken Hively / Los Angeles Times

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Comments (13)

Raise the fees! Don't close them. How stupid is this? This is the one program, unlike welfare programs, that you can raise the fees paid by participants to save the system. Why does government always ignore the obvious solution? Is there a law that states government can never use common sense to solve problems?

Really pretty simple, exempt fire and safety, but everything, and I do mean everything else takes the necessary percentage cut. Welfare, schools, and Parks all share the necessary cuts. Let the Parks decide how they ioperate with less money, which ones close. But at end of day I'd really rather see some illegal aliens doing with out welfare services or students majoring in basket weaving cut before we close parks!

I would suggest raising the use fees to keep the parks open. Most who use them have the means to pay more.

Lets give some of the state parks to the national park service. That way our resources will still be protected and we Californians can still enjoy our parks. Anza-Borrego, for one, is definitely worthy of National Park status.

I think raising the entrance fees 10% to 20% would help the issue greatly. Californians would gladly pay a few more dollars per visit to prevent the parks from being closed. If I can pay $25 for an afternoon movie with my family, I can pay a few extra dollars per visit to my favorite local state park.

EVERYTHING is getting cut. We have to cut 25% of the ENTIRE BUDGET. Not just 5% or 10% of a few workers. Heathcare for little children is getting cut. Prisons are getting cut. UC and CSU's are getting their budgets destroyed. One UC Law school is losing its ENTIRE budget. That's 100%.

Stop complaining about cutting the state parks. They HAVE to be cut and a lot more has to be cut. I love the state parks just like you do, but we have no choice.

Sign the petition to save California State parks.


Arnold plans to close Los Angeles and San Diego state beaches, but by a strange coincidence all five of the Orange County state beaches will be left open. Who says he's not playing politics?

Re: the money has to come from somewhere
Recently friends of mine were vacationing in Hawaii. Their SUV was stolen. When police caught the thief breaking into a condo, they asked all parties involved to not file a complaint. He was a visiting Costa Rican attorney who had gone bankrupt. They did not want to spend the money prosecuting or jailing, but asked instead to be allowed to return the gentleman to his own country, put a blackmark on his passport, so he could never come back. It was done!
How much would California save if we handled matters in this fashion? If you're not a US citizen and you get caught doing something illegal, you get sent home.

Closing the parks and selling off state holdings during an economic downturn? Schwarzenegger is an idiot. Makes you wish we had kept Gray Davis.

Time for the rubber to hit the road. WE (that means YOU, reader!) voted down any possibility of raising revenues in the state. WE said NO. Guess what...no revenue...no services. I doesn't get much simpler than that. Fire all the State employees you want. Complain all you want to about our lousy governor and legislature. It's not going to change the fact that services can't be paid for. Don't even think about new debt. You want services?....then PAY for them!

What I want to know is, if we cut all the state employee wages over $200,000 by just 10%, and by just 5% over $100,000, how much would that save us?

The outdoor spaces, the parks, the ocean, the forests, the mountains, and hills plus the wildlife that live there are the very thing I love most about California. Without all that natural beauty and wilderness, California loses its appeal.
I cannot imagine living in California without the opportunity to visit these wild places. And I KNOW I'm not alone. Without these places to help give us some respite from the crazy workaday world, people will go stir-crazy. The outdoors helps bring us back to sanity. Nature is medicine to our world-weary souls. Nature helps give us perspective. These parks MUST be kept open. If they are not, you will have so many unhappy, crazed people on your hands. SAVE OUR PARKS. Please. Please. Please.


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