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Federal Gov't to Schwarzenegger: There are Legal Issues with Closing State Parks

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Leo Carillo State Beach received federal funding with stipulations to stay open in perpetuity | Photo by Clinton Steeds via Flickr
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Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger's budget-saving threat to close 80% of state parks for two years has the federal government raising a red flag. Numerous parks, including a handful local to Los Angeles, are under stipulations to stay open to the public because the land was fully or partially federally funded or transferred to the state from federal ownership.

If closures were to happen, the state could lose future federal funding, not receive reimbursements and be in violation with legal contracts, according to a June 8th letter from the National Park Service to Schwarzenegger, obtained by LAist. 69 of the 220 parks threatened to be closed fall under the Federal Land and Water Conservation Fund (LWCF) State Grant Program, which financially assists states and local governments for acquisition and development of public outdoor recreation areas and facilities. Over the years, California has received approximately $286 million.

To help solve a $24 billion budget deficit, Schwarzenegger's plan calls for $140 million in savings by closing 80% of state parks for two years. The legislature's Democratic budget revision proposal, currently being debated, calls for a one year closure saving the state $70 million with a follow up bill that would then re-open the parks by enacting an annual $15 vehicle license fee, something the Governor has vowed to veto because it's an increase in fees to the public.