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Some state parks to close, many others spared -- for now -- in budget deal

July 21, 2009 |  1:32 pm

The proposed state budget appears to spare the deep cuts once suggested for California's parks.

The state’s conservation and resource agencies, which generally don’t have dedicated funding source, depend on bonds or the general fund and are especially vulnerable to cuts.

Given that, the state parks system may have dodged a bullet.

The agreement calls for a $70-million cut, about half the agency’s annual budget. But legislators were able to find $62 million to backfill for this year only, leaving the parks with an $8-million shortfall.

That is expected to force the closure of some parks, but is a far better scenario than the governor’s proposal to close 220 parks, or 80% of the nation’s largest state park system.

Roy Stearns, a spokesman for the parks agency said officials were still examining the options, but Traci Verardo-Torres, vice president of government affairs for the California State Parks Foundation, said there is no question that some parks will be closed.

The organization estimates as many as 30 parks will be shuttered. Left unresolved is where state parks funding will come from next year.

 “The governor’s offer was to totally cut the state parks from the general fund over two years. The legislation has agreed with him on the first step, for this year at least,” she said. “ Where do we go next year?”

-- Julie Cart