California's state parks spared from closure, but how fantastic is this plan?
The headline atop today's news release from Sacramento is full of promise: "Gov. Schwarzenegger Announces Plan to Keep State Parks Open"
The governor is quoted as saying, "This is fantastic news for all Californians."
But you might tone down your celebration. While about 100 of California's 267 state parks would be spared full closure under a plan to achieve $14.2 million in savings during the fiscal year, at least that many and possibly more could be open only partially or seasonally, and/or with restricted hours.
Also under the plan, maintenance and equipment costs would be sharply reduced and staffing would be cut.The plan, a cooperative effort between the Department of Finance and Department of Parks and Recreation, does not restore funding to the beleaguered state parks system and many actions outlined in the plan, to realize a one-time budget savings, were being considered anyway, along with the closures.
The California State Parks Foundation, which has figured prominently in the struggle to keep parks open, responded to the governor's plan suspiciously and placed this statement on its website: "While the Governor has found a clever way to get political cover on this issue, it’s not clear that this plan won’t actually leave Californians with just as limited access to their state parks as if they had been fully closed.
"The 'found money' here is from having less lifeguards on state beaches, not maintaining restrooms, not staffing parks for health and safety standards, etc. And you’ll see at the end of the release, a $22-million cut in next year’s budget is still on the horizon."
So while it's good that our favorite parks will remain open this year, today's news isn't all that fantastic.-- Pete Thomas
Photo: A deer wanders in a meadow at dusk in Malibu Creek State Park. Credit: Pete Thomas/Los Angeles Times