Most California State Parks Spared from Closure

Providence Mountains SRA beneath the smoke plume from the Old Fire, October 2003 | Chris Clarke photo
Providence Mountains SRA beneath the smoke plume from the Old Fire, October 2003 | Chris Clarke photo

[Update, 5:03 p.m.: All parks but Providence Mountains SRA will remain open. See below for details.]

There's good news for fans of most of California's more than 270 state parks today: according to a post by Kevin Yamamura on the Sacramento Bee's site, 65 of the 70 state parks slated for closure to alleviate the state's budget crisis will stay open, at least for the time being.

[Update: Budget developments since Yamamura's post earlier this morning have resulted in a California Division of Parks and Recreation decision to keep all but one of the threatened State Parks open, rather than all but five as reported below. Only Providence Mountains SRA, closed for repairs in 2011, will remain shuttered. Though Governor Brown used his line-item veto to strip $31 million from State Parks' 2012 budget, the agency has judged that sum adequate to keep the rest of the State Parks properties open to the public. "We're going to leave all of them open for now," state parks spokesman Clark Blanchard told the San Diego Union Tribune. "We've bought ourselves some time."]

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The five parks with no reprieve are Benicia State Recreation Area; Gray Whale Cove and Zmudowski state beaches in Northern California; Providence Mountains State Recreation Area in the middle of the Mojave National Preserve, and the California Mining and Mineral Museum in the Sierra foothills town of Mariposa. Most of the parks spared have found other sources of operations funding, such as this cooperating agreement with the Sempervirens Fund to keep Castle Rock State Park near Santa Cruz open. A few that remain will be operated out of a thin discretionary fund that remains in the state parks budget as State Parks looks for other cooperating agencies.

Yamamura reports the Mining and Mineral Museum is already packing up and preparing to shut down. Under state coastal access law, the closed state beaches will remain open to public access, though without services available. Providence Mountains SRA, recently vandalized, would require hundreds of thousands of dollars in repairs and maintenance to re-open it.

But at least for now, the other 65 state park properties under risk of closure will remain open. Time to schedule a visit.

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