Six months ago, when the state first proposed closing several hundred state parks to help with the cataclysmic budget problems here, there was disbelief in some quarters and apathy in others. It was one of several harsh budget measures that were thrown against the wall. Having formerly covered state budget battles in other states, I admit that I was skeptical a bit about some of the proposals. Sell off San Quentin, etc., etc.? Hardly. But enough of these draconian conditions have actually come true that the parks closure seems likely.
The latest (from Press Democrat reporter Bob Norberg this week) is that the closures of about 100 state parks could be decided in the next week.
According to the article, the decision on which parks to close will be based on facts like attendance, park revenue, operating costs and whether the parks have historical artifacts that need to be preserved. There’s probably a more complicated criteria involving other factors too but it does sound a little Darwinian. There’s also the possibility that corporate sponsors will emerge to help keep parks open. It happened with Target and the Washington Monument, so the Kaiser Topanga State Park probably isn’t out of the realm of believability.
Or there’s the groundswell of the public outcry that could make a difference. It seldom does prevent the budget axe, but where there’s a cause, there’s a petition.
My colleague at the PD Inside Opinion blog reported Wednesday night that a source says that Annadel State Park will be on the closure list. No idea if this is the case or not, but that doesn’t bode well for Santa Rosa’s local treasure. Although I’m unsure what it would mean if the park were to close as I assume I could still just walk into it and get on a trail, and bikers could do the same.
Update: PD reporter Bleys Rose has just reported that Annadel is indeed slated for closure. Also on the list is Petaluma Adobe.
Interestingly, according to the state parks, while most of the top 10 attended parks (which include state beaches) are in Southern California, #2 on the list is Sonoma Coast State Beach (which includes the 17 miles of coastline heading north from Bodega Head – that’s Portuguese Beach in the photo up top). So maybe that one’s safe.