Sacramento's Sutter Fort, a State Historic Park
One of the few areas that dodged big cuts in California’s latest budget is the state parks system. Still, the state could close up to 50 parks, and it’s unlikely private donors will pay to keep them open.
Governor Schwarzenegger’s May budget proposal included closing more than 200 state parks. But lawmakers balked, and now, the parks department will only lose funding for between 30 and 50 sites.
The parks get a lot of donations from individuals, charities and even private companies. But Traci Verardo-Torres with the California State Parks Foundation says don’t count on them to fill the budget hole.
Verardo-Torres: “Private funders have been reluctant to come in and substitute for what they legitimately see as state’s responsibility. It’s hard to get private funders to pay for things like law enforcement and maintenance of restrooms when generally, what private funders have done are things that add value.”
Verardo-Torres says it will take creative solutions to figure out how to keep as many parks open as possible, like reduced hours and working with the federal and local governments.
The state has not yet said which parks it will close. But it’s expected to decide based on factors like attendance and revenue.