A list detailing the budget-related plans to close up to 100 state parks will be released sometime in the next week, a spokeswoman for California State Parks said today.
The proposed closures were announced earlier this summer after last-minute line-item vetoes and other funding reductions resulted in millions of dollars in lost funding for parks, according to California State Parks officials.
Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger eliminated $6.2 million on top of the Legislature’s $8 million in cuts to the department, which – combined with reduced tobacco tax revenues, lost value of work days from furloughs, and an estimated loss in revenue from closing parks – will result in a $51.6 million loss over the next two years, officials said.
The agency is reviewing the final draft of the list and expects to release it by next week, California State Parks spokeswoman Sheryl Watson said.
Watson said the agency is negotiating with prospective sponsors and partners including businesses, nonprofits and local governments that might be able to help keep the parks open.
“We’re talking to a lot of people,” Watson said. “We don’t have anything in contract yet. We continue to explore all creative options that are presented to us.”
It is not yet clear which parks might be closed or when the closures will go into effect, Watson said.
Further service reductions, which have occurred as a result of furloughs at some state parks, are a possibility, including reducing hours at visitor centers, and closing park facilities such as bathrooms and showers.
Dave Matthews, park superintendent at Angel Island State Park, said park officials are waiting for the list to be released before making any decisions.
“I know a list is being created and any park would be eligible to be on that list,” Matthews said. “I think it’s unfortunate that we’re in a place that parks will have to close in order to meet budgetary needs.”
Dan Stefanisko, supervising ranger at Mt. Diablo State Park, said park officials are discussing options that vary from limited to total closures and are identifying other ways to cut spending.
“We’re just waiting to hear back and then we’ll follow through,” Stefanisko said. “Hopefully we’ll be able to implement pretty quickly if that’s what it calls for.”
Stefanisko, a 14-year state park veteran, said park officials are keeping their fingers crossed.
“It’s a trying time for everybody, we have to do what we can to keep the budget going in the right manner.”