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Officials Looking for Partnership Ideas to Keep State Parks Open

Red Rock Canyon State Park | Photo by Rennett Stowe via Flickr
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California's budget has passed both houses and now awaits Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger's signature. Until then, nothing is set in stone and parks and open space advocates await the final verdict on state parks. As it stands now, $8 million will be sliced off for this year, which could translates to the closure of 30 to 50 parks. Schwarzenegger's original proposal included a two-year cut that would close 80% of parks.

"We don't have a concrete figure that's on paper," said Roy Stearns of California State Parks over the phone, noting that it would be premature to start planning which parks to cut before all the budget's details are finalized. However, with cuts an almost annual activity these days, staff are examining how partnerships can keep parks afloat.

"We want to find if there are cities, counties, nonprofits, groups, associations who might want to come forward to keep parks open," Stearns said. "If that's possible, that might help us save some parks from closing." For example, a group of cities in an area where there is an important park, could in theory save it by temporarily funding it.

Beyond that, state parks officials say they are open to any and all ideas. "Our goal is to keep as many as possible. We're not quitters," Stearns continued. "Someone might come up with an idea we never thought of... If cities and counties out there come up with something, we'll pay attention. We know how important some of these parks are to some of these local areas--they are economically very important."