SACRAMENTO — A quarter of all state parks would close because of budget cuts approved by the state Legislature — from redwood groves along the North Coast to historic mining sites in the Sierra foothills and the Salton Sea in Southern California — under plans announced Friday by Gov. Jerry Brown’s administration.
The state would close 70 of its 278 state parks, said California State Parks Director Ruth Coleman. The park system will cut services this summer and close all 70 parks as of July 1, 2012, she said.
The parks system hopes to minimize layoffs, possibly shifting some of the roughly 200 workers who would be affected by the closings into vacant positions within the department, said Tony Perez, the state’s deputy director for park operations. There are almost 2,300 full-time positions in the state parks and about 500 of them are open.
“We regret closing any park,” Coleman said in a prepared statement, “but with the proposed budget reductions over the next two years, we can no longer afford to operate all parks within the system.” The state will start seeking partnerships with local governments and nonprofits that could keep some of the parks open, she said.
“Closing state parks is not a task that gives anyone joy, but we are experiencing turbulent times that necessitate deep — almost unthinkable — cuts to public services,” Brown said in a statement Friday afternoon. “I will work hard in the coming weeks to reach an agreement that will allow us to avoid deeper and more disruptive reductions.”
The cuts are the result of a bill Brown signed into law in March that slices $11 million from the parks budget in the fiscal year that begins July 1 and $22 million the next fiscal year. That trims the system’s 2012-2013 budget from the state general fund to $99 million.