Governor Backs Off Wholesale State Park Closures

Early in the budget mess in Sacramento, Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger threatened to close many state parks to save money. The parks pointed to the fact that they generate revenue for communities which pay taxes. Now, according to the Mono Lake Committee, things look better for Mono Lake and Bodie.monobasin

Mono Lake Committee Director Geoff McQuilkin said that the Goveernor now promises that far fewer than 100 parks statewide will close. McQuilkin said while there’s no guarantee, both Mono Lake Tufa State Natural Reserve and Bodie State Historical Park feel more confident.

McQuilkin said that the Governor’s people stepped back from park closure plans in the face of heavy criticism from the public, legislators and park advocates. He said that over 10,000 letters and petition signatures in support of Mono Lake and Bodie went to Sacramento.

McQuilkin pointed out that parks protect parts of California’s cultural and natural heritage and generate net income for the state through tax revenues. The downside of park closures? Risk of wildfires, facility damage, loss of fees, legal liabilities. A $14 million deficit in the park system remains unresolved. Some now say that parks need a dedicated revenue source like a vehicle license fee of $15.

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