California’s 280 state parks have been set aside to preserve and protect some of the most culturally and naturally significant places in our state. From sandy beaches to ancient redwood forests, California’s state parks provide countless opportunities for recreation and relaxation, while historic parks provide a glimpse into the past and priceless educational experiences for visitors of all ages.
However, all of this is at risk as budget cuts continue to starve our state park system. Over the past few years budget cuts to state parks have resulted in drastic service reductions and partial closures. Proposals to close state parks were averted in 2008 and 2009, but have now become a reality.
On May 13, 2011, the Department of Parks and Recreation (DPR) released a list of 70 park proposed for closure due to a $22 million general fund budget cut. These 70 state parks were scheduled to close by July 1, 2012.
Over the past year, numerous CSPF partners and private donors have stepped up to fashion temporary deals with DPR to keep most of these parks open. To date, some 30 agreements have been signed with the state and approximately 20 more are in the works. However, these agreements are short-term and meant to buy time.
While it is important for us all to celebrate these reprieves, we must not lose sight of the fact that California’s 280 state parks need long-term funding solutions to ensure that they stay open and protected - and permanently saved from closure. We are not out of the woods yet, not even close. California’s entire state park system remains threatened.