If State Parks Close, Can We Still Use Them?

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Crystal Cove State Park is one of the few to be saved | Photo by g-hat via Flickr

If Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger's proposal to cut 80% of state parks for two years from the budget——that's a $143.4 million in savings—the public is officially verboten from using those lands, according to state officials. "We rely on the public to be respectful," explained Sheryl Watson, an Information Officer with the California State Parks. "We are asking the public not to go into these parks that are closed."

If the cuts are approved, the parks will lose their staffing and close after Labor Day. There will be no water or electricity and bathrooms and visitor centers would be shuttered. When funding comes back to park system—and there's no guarantee it will be in the 2011/12 budget year—they won't open immediately because the state will have to hire thousands of people and bring the parks back up to par.

"It's a very real situation we are facing, the state budget is in dire straits," Watson said. "If these parks close, it would be devating to the state park system."

59 of the 279 state parks will remain open under the proposal. Some of those saved are considered "self sustaining." All of the department run parks in the Los Angeles region would close. However, a handful of Orange County beaches, Crystal Cove and state owned, but locally operated parks will remain open, including Castaic Lake, Kenneth Hahn State Recreation Area, Santa Monica State Beach, Will Rogers State Beach and the Watts Towers of Simon Rodia State Historic Park. A full list of proposed closures and those to remain are below:


State Parks: Proposed Closures -


California State Parks: Proposed to Stay Open -