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Closing California Parks Called Bad Plan

Parks Foundation Says Proposal Will Cost Jobs

Audio

California Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger has proposed closing 220 state parks, including several in San Diego County, to help reduce the state's $24 billion budget deficit.

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Above: As city budgets around the county are cut, KPBS digital reporter Sharon Heilbrunn asks whether you'd be willing to pay higher taxes to keep public recreation centers and libraries open.

California Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger has proposed closing 220 state parks, including several in San Diego County, to help reduce the state's $24 billion budget deficit.

In San Diego County, the closures include the Anza-Borrego Desert State Park, Silver Strand state beach, and the Torrey Pines state beach and natural reserve.

Traci Verardo-Torres is with the California State Parks Foundation.

She says the closures would mean no staff, no services, no bathrooms.

Verardo-Torres says closing 80 percent of state parks is too big a sacrifice for a minimal reduction in budget savings.

"This doesn't get the state much in terms of savings," Verardo-Torres says. "But in fact, it will likely cause more economic ripple effects in communities that depend on tourism revenue from the state parks."

She says closing the parks could also leave them vulnerable to vandalism.

Verardo-Torres says 59 parks are proposed to remain open because of special funding or because a park has an agreement with local governments for its operations.

The Department of Parks and Recreation has indicated that if the Governor's plan is approved the parks would close after Labor Day.

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