Seventy out of 278 parks will be closed down to save money for California State, Gov. Jerry Brown's administration announced on Friday.
The closures will trim $33 million to balance the deficit-plagued state budget. Closings would begin in September by gradually cutting services in the park. All 70 parks will be closed completely by July 2012, California State Parks Director Ruth Coleman said.
We regret closing any park, Coleman said, but with the proposed budget reductions over the next two years, we can no longer afford to operate all parks within the system.
We believe as park professionals we can no longer afford to keep all our 278 parks open, so we will keep 208 parks open and we hope to keep them open at a high level of quality recreation, she added.
Some of the parks, including the Candlestick Point State Recreation Area and Jack London State Historic Park in the Bay Area, however, could remain open if non-profit groups or local governments agree to step in and take over their operations and funding or if additional concession operations are added, officials said.
Every year, about 5.6 million guests visit the parks which will be closed. In California's history, this will be the first time that parks will be closed to cut budget. And the parks which remain open will also reduce their services.
The closure would affect at least 200 park workers. However, to minimize the problem of unemployment, some of those laid off would be shifted into vacant job positions within the department, according to Tony Perez, the state's deputy director for park operations.