California state park districts announce widespread cost-saving reductions
Get used to it. California's state parks, which thankfully will remain open at least well into 2010, will no longer resemble the well-kept, freely accessible facilities park-goers have grown accustomed to.
On Monday the Inland Empire district announced its cost-saving service reductions, which include weekday closures at some facilities, and reduced hours. Today all districts announced their reductions and it's more of the same throughout the 279-park system.
Here are a few examples:
--Silver Strand State Beach in San Diego will experience 50% lifeguard reductions off-season (September through February). Trash cans and fire rings will be removed from the beach and many
restrooms will be closed.
--The visitor center at Anza-Borrego Desert State Park will be closed Tuesday and Wednesday.
--Popular beach parks in Orange County will reduce by half the number of trashcans on the
beach. Restroom cleaning and fire ring cleaning will be reduced by half. There will be no off-season chemical toilets and lifeguards will be limited to response by permanent staff. Trail upkeep and habitat restoration will be reduced by 50%. Educational and interpretive programs will be reduced by 25%. Irrigation will be reduced by 25%.
--Mt. San Jacinto SP campground will be closed Monday through Wednesday and backpackers--who had enjoyed free access--will be charged $5 per person.
The list goes on but precise details at many parks are not yet clear. State Parks, as of 3:30 p.m., had not yet posted full details for each region on its website, but they should be forthcoming and available under the "News Releases 2009" tab. A news release issued Tuesday afternoon contained only an example sheet and a checklist with Xs marked under various categories.
At Malibu Creek State Park, for example, there are Xs under the following categories: reduced hours, closed camps/loops, close some day use, close some restrooms, reduce cleaning, reduce trash service. These are common reductions throughout the system.
It could be worse. Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger had threatened to close more than 100 parks to help alleviate a severe budget deficit. But it's hardly ideal and, to be sure, some of these reductions--notably the weekday closures--will take getting used to.
-- Pete Thomas
Top and bottom images were captured recently at Malibu Creek State Park in the Santa Monica Mountains. Credit: Pete Thomas / Los Angeles Times