Over 200 State Parks May Shut Down

May 29, 2009 6:21:57 PM PDT
The governor has proposed shutting down more than 200 state parks.The list includes Colonel Allensworth State Historic Park in Tulare County, and four locations in the North Valley.

Happy campers are enjoying barbecuing in the shade and sleeping under the stars at McConnell State Recreation Area near Delhi in Merced County.

Raquel Salguero said, "My favorite part about coming camping is to sleep in tents, have food like we don't usually have at home."

Tulio Castellanos says it's a great place to beat the heat at a price that won't break the bank, and he can't imagine having it shut down. He said, "If they really close, where we can go?"

That's exactly what will happen if the governor's proposal to close 220 state parks is approved.

Park Ranger Danny Rizzo said, "Those parks are scheduled to be closed probably after Labor Day of this year if it does take effect."

Ranger Rizzo manages this park, as well as George Hatfield State Recreation Area in Hilmar and Great Valley Grasslands State Park in Gustine. He says all three are constantly filled with campers, but all three may still be shuttered.

"Every one of these parks is actually booked to capacity every weekend, so that is very disappointing to see when these parks are on the list," said Ranger Rizzo.

The California State Mining and Mineral Museum in Mariposa is also on the list. In fact, only 59 state parks would remain open under the governor's plan, which is intended to save $70 million dollars through June of 2010.

Critics have argued Schwarzenegger is targeting the popular parks despite a relatively small savings to put more pressure on legislators. But for campers like Raquel Salguero, the impact is about much more than the money.

"It would affect us because we won't have the nature anymore, and the nature's really important," said Salguero.

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