Fresno County Parks facing Closure

Fresno, CA, USA Fresno County faces tough financial choices in the weeks ahead, including closing its county parks. And that has the attention of one a local Indian tribe that wants to help keep one of those parks open. And this week county residents will get a chance to voice their opinions on the idea.

Even on a rainy January day lost Lake Park, just below Friant dam, has visitors. Most trying their luck at catching the trout stocked in the San Joaquin River. 89 year old George Herbert has hauled in a few, "My dad raised us if you go hunting and you get it, you eat it! You go fishin' you eat it." George had four nice looking rainbow trout in his fish holder. And like George, Ray Sanders and dog Beau are at this park often enough to warrant a season pass.

But Lost Lake Park like others in the county may have to be closed for lack of operating dollars. Ray doesn't understand that at all, "To me, they don't spend any money here, what's it costing them? If they put somebody out there on the gate out there they'd make some money."

Earlier budget cuts have left the ticket booth unmanned during the week. And when we drove by it, the honor system envelope box to put your fee in was empty.

Nearby, at the Table Mountain Rancheria members of the Indian tribe who have used the same area for recreation for generations is also concerned. When it was contacted by concerned Friant area residents the tribe decided to help keep Lost Lake open. It's attorney, Dan Casas told us today, "Number one is to assist them financially through the end of the year; the other one is too explore a long term lease arrangement or some other long term arrangement where we can work with the county to keep the park open."

District 5 Supervisor Debbie Poochigian represents this part of Fresno County and welcomes input from everyone who wants to help from shutting down the parks the county's residents rely upon, "It's a Fresno County park and i expect that it would remain that way. If there's someone, Table Mountain, or even someone else that wants to help with the administrative costs, I'm open to the proposal."

And that sounds pretty reasonable to George, "The County and the city's runnin' out of money... if they (Table Mountain Rancheria) got the money, they might as well put it somewhere."

On Tuesday, January 27, 2009, the Fresno county board of Supervisors will take up the issue of a lack of funding for its county parks and are expecting a large crowd of folks like Ray and George who really want to see them stay open. Action News will be there too.


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