By allowing ads to appear on this site, you support the local businesses who, in turn, support great journalism.
California closing 70 state parks
Cutbacks start this summer, closures start in September
Placeholder Image


Anderson Marsh State Historic Park
Annadel State Park
Antelope Valley Indian Museum
Austin Creek State Recreation Area
Bale Grist Mill State Historic Park
Benbow Lake State Recreation Area
Benicia Capitol State Historic Park
Benicia State Recreation Area
Bidwell Mansion State Historic Park
Bothe-Napa Valley State Park
Brannan Island State Recreation Area
California Mining & Mineral Museum
Candlestick Point State Recreation Area
Castle Crags State Park
Castle Rock State Park
China Camp State Park
Colusa-Sacramento River State Recreation Area
Del Norte Coast Redwoods State Park
Fort Humboldt State Historic Park
Fort Tejon State Historic Park
Garrapata State Park
George J. Hatfield State Recreation Area
Governor’s Mansion State Historic Park
Gray Whale Cove State Beach
Greenwood State Beach
Grizzly Creek Redwoods State Park
Hendy Woods State Park
Henry W. Coe State Park
Jack London State Historic Park
Jug Handle State Natural Reserve
Leland Stanford Mansion State Historic Park
Limekiln State Park
Los Encinos State Historic Park
Malakoff Diggins State Historic Park
Manchester State Park
McConnell State Recreation Area
McGrath State Beach
Mono Lake Tufa State Natural Reserve
Morro Strand State Beach
Moss Landing State Beach
Olompali State Historic Park
Palomar Mountain State Park
Petaluma Adobe State Historic Park
Picacho State Recreation Area
Pio Pico State Historic Park
Plumas-Eureka State Park
Point Cabrillo Light Station
Portola Redwoods State Park
Providence Mountains State Recreation Area
Railtown 1897 State Historic Park
Russian Gulch State Park
Saddleback Butte State Park
Salton Sea State Recreation Area
Samuel P. Taylor State Park
San Pasqual Battlefield State Historic Park
Santa Cruz Mission State Historic Park
Santa Susana Pass State Historic Park
Shasta State Historic Park
South Yuba River State Park
Standish-Hickey State Recreation Area
Sugarloaf Ridge State Park
Tomales Bay State Park
Tule Elk State Natural Reserve
Turlock Lake State Recreation Area
Twin Lakes State Beach
Weaverville Joss House State Historic Park
Westport-Union Landing State Beach
William B. Ide Adobe State Historic Park
Woodson Bridge State Recreation Area
Zmudowski State Beach

SACRAMENTO  (AP) — A quarter of all state parks would close because of budget cuts approved by the state Legislature — from redwood groves along the North Coast to historic mining sites in the Sierra foothills and the Salton Sea in Southern California — under plans announced Friday by Gov. Jerry Brown’s administration.

The state would close 70 of its 278 state parks, said California State Parks Director Ruth Coleman. The park system will cut services this summer and begin shutting parks in September, with all 70 closings completed by July 2012, she said.

The parks system hopes to minimize layoffs, possibly shifting some of the roughly 200 workers who would be affected by the closings into vacant positions within the department, said Tony Perez, the state’s deputy director for park operations. There are almost 2,300 full-time positions in the state parks and about 500 of them are open.

“We regret closing any park,” Coleman said in a prepared statement, “but with the proposed budget reductions over the next two years, we can no longer afford to operate all parks within the system.” The state will start seeking partnerships with local governments and nonprofits that could keep some of the parks open, she said.

The cuts are the result of a bill Brown signed into law in March that trims $11 million from the parks budget in the fiscal year that begins July 1 and $22 million the next fiscal year. That trims the system’s 2012-2013 budget from the state general fund to $99 million.

“This is a 40 percent reduction to the general fund parks budget since 2007-2008,” said John Laird, California Secretary for Natural Resources.

The closings will be “devastating,” said California State Parks Foundation president Elizabeth Goldstein, affecting sites in 36 of the state’s 58 counties. “At a time when local communities are struggling to be part of the state’s recovery, this proposal shuts the door to a vital part of our economy,” she said in a statement.

The foundation questioned whether many of the parks realistically could be closed, even with roads blocked and buildings locked, because they have so many entry points. Unsupervised parks would be targets for vandalism and other illegal activity, jeopardizing the preservation of California’s historic and natural resources, Goldstein said.

Coleman said the closed parks would be put in “caretaker status” with occasional checks for maintenance and security, but there will be a learning curve because the state has never closed parks before.

“I don’t want to give the impression that we’re just mothballing them and walking away,” she said.

Among the parks scheduled to close are the Governor’s and Leland Stanford mansions in Sacramento, the Antelope Valley Indian Museum, and the Del Norte Coast Redwoods State Park. The closings span the state, from the Morro Strand and Moss Landing state beaches to the Salton Sea State Recreation Area and Palomar Mountain State Park. They include popular recreation spots near cities, such as China Camp State Park north of San Francisco, and isolated nature spots including Plumas-Eureka and South Yuba River state parks.

The department said it based the decision on a variety of factors, including the parks’ statewide significance, protecting the most important natural and cultural resources, public access, whether they have private or nonprofit partnerships and any grant or deed restrictions. The parks that will remain open account for about 92 percent of the visits to the system, officials said, but those on the closing list draw 5.6 million visitors a year.

The closings pose another challenge for communities around the state that rely on tourism dollars, said Gina Zottola, executive director of the Crescent City/Del Norte County Chamber of Commerce.

Crescent City’s port was damaged by tsunami waves spawned by the March 11 earthquake in Japan, and the remote county has a jobless rate of more than 14 percent. Tourism is a significant part of the local economy. The Del Norte Coast Redwoods park — with more than 65,000 visitors in the fiscal year ending in July 2010 — is 7 miles south of Crescent City and is one of several state and national parks in the area that draw tourists.

“Closing the park, that’s very disheartening,” Zottola said. There’s no guarantee that people who can’t get campsites at the closed park will find them elsewhere or stay at hotels instead, she said. “Obviously, it’s a cause for concern.”

The park system will do its best to honor reservations already made for campsites and other services this summer but might have to shift some patrons to other sites because service cuts may shut some camping areas, Coleman said.

Brown is scheduled to release his updated proposal to close the remaining $15.4 billion state budget deficit on Monday. If the proposal includes additional cuts to the parks system, the list may grow, Coleman said.