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What Will State Park Closures Mean To You?

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What will Hike The Geek do?!?!

In order to face up to budget-balancing woes and a state-wide financial crunch, Governor Schwartzenegger has proposed to close 48 different national park sites, as well as cut funding to many school, health care, and criminal justice programs. Parks in the L.A. area like the Will Rogers State Historic Park, Topanga State Park, and Pio Pico State Historic Park in Whittier will all be shut down, affecting many nearby residents and school groups who regularly take advantage of park services.

But beyond the budget cuts, what would a state-wide park closure even mean? Are they gonna just rope off the entry way and make everybody go home? What's going to happen to the land? What's going to happen to the park employees and their jobs? Should citizens still have access to public land? Park officials had a few answers in today's LA Times article:

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Of the state's 278 parks, those slated for closure are the least used, produce the least revenue and are the easiest to secure, according to parks officials. If the budget takes effect as written, gates would be put up at the entrances to 43 of the parks, which would be patrolled and maintained but would not be open to the public, said state parks Director Ruth Coleman. Others would be partially closed. For instance, one of the two campgrounds at Mt. San Jacinto State Park would be closed. The sites slated for closure include Del Norte Coast Redwoods State Park in the state's far northwest corner and Salton Sea State Recreation Area in the southeast.

Coleman said the closures would mean the loss of about 6 1/2 million visitors for a system that had 79 million visitors in 2007. Parks officials said they had not yet decided whether to issue tickets to people who venture onto the closed facilities

Joe Escalante of Indie 103.1's morning show speculated this morning that The Guvnuh might just be in bed with private developers who aim to turn these prime sites into real estate ventures. Hanging out in a beachside resort in the Will Rogers park would be cool, I guess, but a lot of citizens would probably prefer to keep the beach and parks free, open, and friendly to all. Hike The Geek photo by Nogwater via Flickr