California State Park Closures
In May 2011, 70 state parks were announced for closure on July 1, 2012 to save the state $22 million—a mere two-tenths of one percent of the state’s $9.2billion budget deficit. Despite numerous accounts that those savings would be illusory due to the actual costs to close parks, deferred maintenance needs and the loss of tourism dollars to local communities the Department of Parks and Recreation (DPR) is moving forward with the closures. The number of closures has since been reduced due to operating agreements with the federal government, local agencies and nonprofits to manage individual parks however, a comprehensive and long-term funding solution must be realized to maintain parks today and into perpetuity for future generations.
Never in the history of California State Parks has a park been closed, not even during the Great Depression. Parks are held in the public trust to preserve California's rich environmental resources, protect its natural history and provide a beacon of respite and beauty for millions around the world.
In efforts to keep parks open and provide long-term solutions that will allow the State Parks system remain whole and thrive, Senator Evans enlisted the help of Senator Joe Simitian (D-Palo Alto) chair of the Senate Budget Subcommittee #2 on Resources, Environmental Protection, Energy and Transportation to develop a solution, the ‘Sustainable Parks Proposal’. The new budget proposal will create a long-term and compressive funding plan to protect the state parks system and prevent the closure of up to 50 state parks.
Senator Evans, a longtime advocate for the state parks, is also the author of SB 974, which creates a park closure review and plan to reopen parks if closed, and SB 1078, which focuses state parks on revenue generation projects and prioritizes local participation in business plans.