Groups Say Closing Calif. State Parks Is Bad Economics
Two State Parks In San Diego County Face Closure
Wednesday, December 7, 2011
Aired 12/7/11 on KPBS News.
A group of California Parks supporters Wednesday urged California Gov. Jerry Brown to reinstate the funding needed to keep 70 state parks open.
California plans to close 70 of its 278 state parks, including two in San Diego County, due to budget cuts.
The two parks in San Diego County are Palomar Mountain State Park and the San Pasqual Battlefield State Historic Park.
Sam Lichtman with Environment California said the state parks generate jobs and dollars and closing the 70 parks does not add up.
"The state only plans to save $22 million during the next two years by closing these 70 state parks," said Lichtman in San Diego. "At the risk of losing more than $300 million in sales tax revenue."
He said it makes little sense to close the parks when they generate more income than it costs to maintain them.
"State parks generate more than $4 billion in park-related expenditures every year," said Lichtman. "And the 85 million people that visit the parks every year help the state's economy."
Lichtman said the parks provide an affordable family vacation, especially when many people are struggling in a down economy.
He said Palomar Mountain State Park operated a sixth grade camp every year, but now that camp will be closed.
"The state park system was founded to preserve California's natural and historical beauty not to generate revenue," said Lichtman. "And the fact that the parks do generate so much revenue is an added bonus.
Lichtman said even state parks not on the closure list, including Torrey Pines State Beach Park, continue to face budget cuts.
He said those cutbacks affect staffing, services and maintenance.
California State Parks expects the full closures of the 70 parks to take effect by July 2012.