Most of the 14 state parks in Santa Cruz County escaped the axe today when the California Department of Parks and Recreation announced its closure list. But not all.
Slated for closure—which reportedly means reduced services starting in the summer and padlocks on the gates by July 1 of 2012— are Castle Rock State Park (site of the Skyline-to-the-Sea trailhead), Portola Redwoods State Park, Santa Cruz Mission State Historic Park, Twin Lakes State Beach and its subsidiary beach (for administrative purposes, anyway) Seabright State Beach. Statewide, 70 parks, or 25 percent of the state total of 278, got their pink slips.
Friends of Santa Cruz State Parks released a statement this afternoon, with Executive Director Bonny Hawley saying, “We should be asking, ‘Is this the kind of state we want to be living in?’ Until we have a better answer to that question, Friends of Santa Cruz State Parks is prepared to step up in new ways to save these parks and beaches for future generations as they were saved for us.”
In April the Santa Cruz Sentinel reported that AB42, a proposed law that would allow nonprofits to take over the management of shuttered state parks, was gaining broad support throughout the state. At that time Hawley told the Sentinel, referring to parks operation, “We have no great desire to go into that business.”
The parks closures are part of budget cuts designed to close a $15 billion budget gap. Closing all 70 will save $11 million this year and $22 million next fiscal year.
In 2009 Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger proposed closing 220 state parks to save $143 million, but none were ultimately shut down.