Hikers, campers and outdoor enthusiasts may have to find somewhere else to get their nature fix as states around the nation succumb to economic pressures and close dozens of state parks, recreation areas and reserves in an effort to stay afloat.
Of the 6,624 parks and public wildlife areas 41,725 miles of trail, 207,063 campsites and 7,161 cabins and lodges across the state park system in the United States, hundreds face temporary or indefinite closure.
California plans to close 70 of its 278 parks to make $33 million in cuts for the next two years.
Lawmakers closed parks based on these factors:
1) Did they protect the most significant natural and cultural resources?
2) Could they maintain public access and revenue generation to the greatest extent possible?
3) Was there the ability to protect closed parks so that they remain attractive and usable for potential partners?
Other states like Arizona, Georgia, Oklahoma, Rhode Island and Washington are also shuttering parks for the time being.
While some states may not be throwing in the towel just yet, parks like the ones in Utah have experienced huge budget cuts, which means putting off repairs and upkeep on bridges, bathroom facilities, communal shelters and grounds.
New York's 126-year-old park system - the oldest in the nation - is experiencing money and repair shortages as well. Niagara Falls State Park alone needs around $83 million for much needed repairs and improvements. All this, when the state's operating funds for parks dropped from $195 million in 2008-2009 to $159.7 million in 2010.
Parks in Louisiana are enforcing fewer hours of operation and less state-funded events.
Texas has been dealing with budget cuts since early this year, and parks like Lockhart State Park and Big Spring State Park are still facing closure to save the state $2.7 million.
Florida is looking at another way to keep their parks open. The state made the controversial decision to consider privatizing more than 50 of their state parks. Owners could then run camping sites and RV areas, which some worry will destroy the park's natural habitat.
For a complete list of parks closed or threatened with closure, visit http://www.treehugger.com/files/2011/08/the-100-state-parks-facing_closure--is-your-favorite-park-on-the-list.php