California's State Parks: No New Closures

 

In July, after $14.2 million was cut from the California State Parks' operating budget, it looked like up to 100 parks might have to close to make ends meet. Park supporters have thus spent the last few months anxiously speculating about which parks would fall to Governor Schwarzenegger's death panels. But today they got a reprieve.

Sort of.

“Working closely with my Departments of Finance and Parks and Recreation, we have successfully found a way to avoid closing parks this year,” said the governor. He has not, however, found any new funds. A memo released by the state's Department of Parks and Recreation and the Department of Finance made it clear that some people would lose their jobs, some parks would lose their campgrounds, and no one better even think about buying any new power tools. 

"In the current fiscal year, Parks can achieve one-time budget savings in the following manner," reads a memo from the California Department of Parks and Recreation Director Ruth Coleman and Ana Matosantos, chief deputy director of the Department of Finance. First cut on the list is "Maintenance and Equipment," instructing park managers to "reduce ongoing maintenance for the remainder of 2009-10 and eliminate all major equipment purchases" to save $12.1 million. Other adjustments include "reducing hours and/or days of operation at most State Park units, reducing expenditures on seasonal staff [and] reducing staffing and operations at Headquarters."

The announcement comes shortly after Public Employees for Environmental Responsibility (PEER) leaked a memo [pdf] exploring the possible legal consequences of closing parks (see "Lawless Future Indeed" on this very blog), including lawsuits brought by citizens and nonprofits against the state for reneging on habitat and historic preservation commitments. The memo also talked about the potential danger to the public of closing parks that can't be cordoned off, as discussed here in High Country News. "Liability for a dangerous condition of public property is not dependent on whether the users are invitees or trespassers," reads the memo. "So State Parks has a duty to protect even those who may be in the park illegally from dangerous conditions." Like, uh, automatic weapon target practice.

There's just one problem about California's park plan -- actually, there are several, but here's at least one: The PEER-leaked memo warns not just about closing parks but also understaffing them. A tourist who disappears in a rip current at a state beach manned by too few lifeguards, or a paintballer who falls out of tree where there are no rangers, could still cost the state big money in the long run. It might have made more good sense to pay seasonal salaries than settle lawsuits later. But few of California's recent economic policies these days, seem to have much basis in good sense.

 

High Country News Classifieds
  • DEVELOPMENT COORDINATOR
    Western Resource Advocates (WRA) seeks a friendly, detail-oriented, and self-motivated Development Coordinator to provide administrative support to the Development department. This position will report to...
  • FIELD ORGANIZER, MONTANA
    Help Northern Plains Resource Council protect Montana's water quality, family farms and ranches, & unique quality of life. Work hard, meet good people, make the...
  • FOR SALE
    Successful llama trekking business with Yellowstone National Park concession for sale! A fun and enriching business opportunity of a lifetime! Call 406-580-5954
  • ALBUQUERQUE VACATION HOME
    Centrally located. One bed, one bath, lovely outdoor patio, well-stocked kitchen.
  • NEW AGRARIAN PROGRAM DIRECTOR
    Quivira (www.quiviracoaltion.org), a Santa Fe-based nonprofit that aims to shift current practices of agriculture and land stewardship to those that produce good food, support meaningful...
  • SPECTACULAR SCENIC MOUNTAIN VIEW HOME BUILDING SITE
    Located on top of Sugarloaf Mtn. 5 mi W of downtown Colorado Springs, CO. $80,000.
  • EXECUTIVE DIRECTOR
    opportunity in Eugene, Oregon! To learn more and to apply, visit our website at www.bufordpark.org.
  • FUNDRAISING & OUTREACH COORDINATOR
    Does the prospect of working to protect one of the Southwest's last remaining flowing rivers get you excited? Join the team at Friends of the...
  • DIGITAL ENGAGEMENT SPECIALIST
    Position Summary Western Resource Advocates (WRA) seeks a dynamic, organized, and creative Digital Engagement Specialist to be an essential part of our growing Communications Team....
  • NORTH IDAHO FIELD REPRESENTATIVE
    Founded by sportsmen and women 1936, the Idaho Wildlife Federation (IWF) is a statewide nonprofit dedicated to conserving and enhancing Idaho's natural resources, wildlife, habitat,...
  • SMALL HISTORICAL FARM FOR SALE - NEW MEXICO
    23-acres, adobe home, shop, barn, gardens, pasture, orchard. https://www.zillow.com/homes/222-Calle-Del-Norte,-Monticello,-Nm_rb/ or call 575-743-0135.
  • NEW MEXICO GILA NATIONAL FOREST HORSE RANCH
    43 acres in the Gila National Forest. Horse facility, custom home. Year round outdoor living. REDUCED to: $1.17 MM 575-536-3109
  • GRANTS MANAGER AND EDITOR
    Are you a strong communicator who excels at building relationships, writing winning grant proposals, and staying organized? You sound like a good fit for our...
  • REPORTER
    The Wallowa County Chieftain, has an opening for a reporter. Experience with and understanding of editorial photography also required. Journalism degree or equivalent, an understanding...
  • 2017 JOHN DEERE LAWN MOWER Z930R
    15 hours on it, 3 years warranty, 22,5 HP, $1600 Sale price. Contact: [email protected]
  • OWN YOUR OWN CANYON - 1400 SF STRAW-BALE ECO-HOME ON 80 ACRES - 3 HOURS FROM L.A.
    1400 sf of habitable space in a custom-designed eco-home created and completed by a published L.A. architect in 1997-99. Nestled within its own 80-acre mountain...
  • HEAD BREAD/PASTRY BAKER AND ASSISTANT POSITIONS
    Hiring Part/Full time for Summer Season - entry level & experienced positions. Year round employment for optimal candidates. Pay DOE.
  • EVERLAND MOUNTAIN RETREAT
    Everland Mountain Retreat includes 318 mountaintop acres with a 3,200 square foot lodge and two smaller homes. Endless vistas of the Appalachian mountains, open skies,...
  • COUNTRY ESTATE NEAR KINGS CANYON AND SEQUOIA PARKS
    Spectacular views of snowcapped Sierras. 15 miles from Kings Canyon/Sequoia Parks. 47 acres with 2 homes/75' pool/gym/patios/gardens. 1670 sq.ft. main home has 3 bdrm/1 bath....
  • GILA NATIONAL FOREST NEW MEXICO
    Beautiful off-the-grid passive solar near the CDT. 9.4 acres, north of Silver City. Sam, 575.388.1921