That state park system that was miraculously saved at the last minute during the budget holocaust in Sacramento? It's on the chopping block once more. According to the L.A. Times and other sources, Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger's last-minute, half-billion dollar "gotcha" cuts made through line-item vetoes, axed $6.2 million from California's park system -- on top of the legislature-ordered cut of $8 million. This raises the possibility that the number of parks to be shut down will now be more like 100, and not the 50 originally anticipated. (See previous post for possible L.A.-area park closures.) Pouring salt into this wound, the governor also eviscerated a program that funded local governments to encourage property owners to preserve open space. This is especially pertinent in Southern California, where privately held open land is vanishing quicker than the California condor.
A "fact sheet" (see link below) issued by the department notes that the damage it will suffer won't be confined to the combined $14.2 million budget cut. According to the department, it will also lose $12 million worth of personnel work time through furloughing, along with $10 million of lost admission revenue from closed parks -- putting the total loss at $38.6 million for the first year of cuts. A spokesman for the parks department had not responded to L.A. Daily phone queries by the time of this post.
According to a statement issued by Elizabeth Goldstein, president of
the California State Parks Foundation, a Sacramento-based advocacy
group with an office in Los Angeles, "the $14.2 million in 'savings'
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that would come from closing more than 100 state parks is truly a drop
in the bucket. But it's a small drop that will have a ripple effect,
then a tsunami, for park visitors and local economies."
State Parks Fact Sheet:
Parks Talking Points.pdf