Two state lawmakers unveiled a plan today they say would save at least 50 California parks from closing this summer.
Democratic Senators Noreen Evans (D-Santa Rosa) and Joe Simitian (D-Palo Alto) say they want to shift as much as $40 million to state parks out of funds that pay for road maintenance, septic system repairs and programs for off-highway vehicles. A senate budget subcommittee is scheduled to take up the proposal on Wednesday.
Senator Evans said closing the parks would damage local economies and natural resources, not fix the deficit.
“Closing parks is not going to save the taxpayers money, and in fact it will be costing us more money, because we have to continue to police these parks and to maintain them without the ability to collect any revenues for them,” Evans said.
Seventy state parks were originally slated to close by July 1, 2012, but 15 have been saved so far through donations, new parking rates, partnerships with the National Park Service and by other means.
Director of California’s state park system Ruth Coleman has said that the state must close parks and reduce services as part of the $22 million reduction in the department’s budget.
The three latest parks pulled from the parks closure list are the Bale Grist Mill State Historic Park, the Bother-Napa Valley Sate Park and the Santa Cruz Mission State Historic Park.