Brown instructed the state parks department to draw up by mid-February a list of parks to be closed to save $11 million this year and $22 million next year.
But today, three months later, as millions of Californians prepare for summer vacations to state beaches, forests and historic sites, the names of the parks to be closed remain a tightly held secret.
The lack of disclosure has rangers anxious, legislators uninformed and parks advocates frustrated.
“We’re quite disturbed we haven’t seen the list,” said Elizabeth Goldstein, president of the California State Parks Foundation, a nonprofit advocacy group. “We think if there’s any chance for the nonprofit community to step up and help the state when it looks like parks are going to be closing, the more time organizations have to plan, the more likely we’ll find some kind of interim solutions.”
Goldstein said she is hoping some parks slated to close can stay open, at least part of the time, in partnerships with volunteers, concession companies and nonprofit organizations. Until it’s known which of California’s 278 state parks are to be closed, those arrangements can’t be made.
Political observers speculate that Brown is not releasing the list because as he tries to craft a budget deal between Democrats
and Republicans, naming specific parks would lead to such public outcry that legislators might refuse to vote for the budget unless parks in their district are kept open.
Gil Duran, a spokesman for Brown, confirmed that state parks Director Ruth Coleman and her staff have given a list to the governor’s office. Asked about rumors in the capital that as many as 70 state parks are on the list, he said: “I’m not sure. Dozens would be safe to say.”
Asked when a list might be made public, he said he didn’t know.
“There is a draft list of potential parks closures that will have to be revised in light of the fact that more cuts may be necessary,” Duran said. “We do not plan to release it at this time. And we are examining ways we may be able to mitigate the closure of some parks.”
I am sure Brown will make lots of folks mad on any cuts. What do you think?——Paul Schrader