State park closure details expected soon
The fate of roughly 100 state parks might not be revealed until next week.
Earlier this summer, the California Legislature recently voted to take $8 million from the state parks funding, and Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger took another $6.2 million in line-item vetoes, leaving state parks to look for roughly 100 parks of the state’s 279 to close.
State parks officials planned to announce the closures after Labor Day, and are now expecting to disclose the list sometime next week, along with any other changes or financial strategies, said Roy Stearns, deputy director of communications for California State Parks.
Locally, those interested in the fate of Truckee/Tahoe area parks and the financial impact they have on the region are bracing for the news and formulating a response.
“We’re all standing by,” said Steve Teshara, executive director of the North Lake Tahoe Resort Association. “We’re prepared to take immediate action.”
Local state parks include Donner Memorial in Truckee and D.L. Bliss, Ed Z’berg Sugar Pine Point and Emerald Bay near Lake Tahoe.
Teshara said he couldn’t elaborate on what potential actions could be taken if local parks are closed.
“We believe we have a strong case that no parks in this area should be closed,” Teshara said.
He said the resort association has been in close contact with State Assemblyman Ted Gaines, who Teshara said could be a strong ally for the region.
California State Parks raised both day use and camping fees at parks throughout the state in August, making up a small fraction of the shortfall.
“That saves maybe one, maybe two parks,” Stearns said in a previous interview.
But Steve Frisch of the Sierra Business Council said the state’s budget ultimately has to be fixed if there’s any hope for a long-term solution for state parks.
“Until we solve the budget problem we’re kind of up the creek,” Frisch said. “We’re going to find many things we love curtailed.”
The closure of area state parks could significantly impact Truckee/Tahoe trail users, said Allison Pedley, executive director of the Truckee Trails Foundation.
Even if the trail closures aren’t enforced, area trail access would still suffer, she said.
“What people are going to have to remember is that restrooms at trail heads will be closed, trails will be more treacherous without maintenance, and there will be no rangers who know the trails patrolling if you get in trouble,” Pedley said.
If local parks close, Pedley said the Truckee Trails Foundation would consider maintaining trails state parks couldn’t, if possible.
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