March 25, 2011
In recent days, our State legislators passed a trailer bill that includes an $11 million cut for State Parks in the coming fiscal year, which will grow to $22 million in permanent cuts to the Department next year. We know this means park closures and additional service reductions, however a park closure list has not been released by the Governor’s office yet.
That list is rumored to contain 70 parks that are slated to close. In addition to closures, there will be many service reductions in parks that may not close entirely. In the Russian River District the following service reductions have been in affect since Fall of 2010 and most are slated to continue until July 1st. Fort Ross is closed during the week; 2/3 of the camping is closed at Bodega Dunes; several parking areas and restrooms are closed along the coast including Vista Point and Russian Gulch; Willow Creek and Pomo Canyon campgrounds are closed; Bull Frog Pond campground is closed in Austin Creek State Recreation Area. These reductions in service will become more apparent to the public when the weather gets better and they want to visit and camp in their favorite parks.
Obviously, State Parks are not alone in the budget crisis and many other agencies are waiting to see what will happen with the Governor’s proposal to put a tax extension measure on the June ballot. What is most concerning is the fact that if these taxes are not extended, the budget will be in much worse shape and it could mean even greater cuts to State Parks. So, it is not a pretty picture and the solution is to come up with new, creative options for keeping our parks operating for the benefit of the people of California.