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Bills Intended To Keep State Parks Open

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(Sacramento, CA)
Tuesday, April 26, 2011

Republican Senator Tom Harman's legislation would require the Department of Parks and Recreation to post a notice of a park closure on its website.  Harman hopes that would prompt local governments, charities and private firms to step in and run the park.  He says any agreement would be up to the Department - and safeguards would be in place:

"Well there would obviously have to be restrictions and conditions imposed on the operator of the park - the private operator - and I'm assuming that the standards would remain the same.  I would be hopeful that the public wouldn't even notice."

Another bill would require the Department of Parks and Recreation to notify cities and counties of proposed park closures.  Roy Stearns is with the Department.  He says he can't comment on the current bills, but says the idea of partnerships is welcome:

"In fact 32 parks are already operated by cities, counties and nonprofits and have been for many years, so that's nothing new to us and we would gladly look to expand that to more."

State parks face an eleven million dollar cut next fiscal year - and additional cuts the year after.  Stearns says park closures next summer are probably unavoidable.   The Department has been compiling a list of likely candidates, but Stearns says they won't know for certain the extent of the cuts until lawmakers pass a budget.

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