California Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger’s proposal to close over 200 state parks to public meet predictable criticism.
The Governor said that the state can no longer afford to sustain the parks after noting a budget defect of nearly $26 billion. He is hoping that the closure of the parks would save the state millions of dollar in service costs over the next twelve months. Predictably the public are not taking to this suggestion easily.
This proposal would affect nearly 80 percent of California’s state parks and restrict access to nearly 30 percent of California’s coastlines.
The proposal would affect parks all down the state from the Sierra Nevada mountains to the Big Sur beaches down south. Preventing access to giant redwoods and such features as Lake Tahoe.
At least 2,000 jobs would be threatened, affecting park rangers, biologists and lifeguards, who would be laid off due to the Governor’s plans.
But the National Park Service are threatening to seize some locations if Schwarzenegger goes through with the legislation.
Of the areas that the Service have threatened to siege are San Francisco’s Angel Island, which is where Chinese immigrants were barracked, Mount Diablo, Point Sur historical park in Big Sur and three beaches Ford Ort Dunes near Monterrey.
In his warning letter National Park Service director Jonathan Jarvis warns that the state could lose any future park funding.
Speaking on Schwarzenegger’s behalf a representative remarked: “We’re reviewing the letter and state parks director Ruth Coleman is in the process of talking with the National Park Service and Jon Jarvis about these very issues.”They are discussing a variety of outcomes and solutions depending on what final budget package is passed by the Legislature.”
So far the Governor has rejected the democrats proposal for a $15 annual fee for vehicle registration in order to help maintain the parks.
A spokesman for the National Parks Service said that another option is to cut down the park hours rather than cut them off completely. “We want to work with them, and see what they have to offer” he said “because we don’t want to close the parks and I’m sure they don’t want to either”.
Conservationists have been raising concerns about the implications of leaving the parks untended. They suggest it would costs as much to keep people out of the parks, and in future repairs, as it would to keep them open. They also point out that the parks are a great source of revenue for the state and closing them down may impinge on tourist revenue.
With the threat of the closure of Lake Tahoe to the public many people with property being let as Lake Tahoe vacation rentals are also upset by the proposition along with a large number of businesses and hotels relying on tourist money.
A representative of The National Parks Service had this to say, “Each visitor to a state park is worth $57 per visit. The parks have generated millions throughout California. It’s almost as if they are shooting themselves in the foot.”