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The Stark Reality Of State Park Closings

You might have heard in your own state of budget cuts since the economy has been so bad the past years. One of the things that has been on the chopping block in many state budgets is the funding that keeps their state parks open. With things like education and other important state expenses being cut to the bone, a lot of legislators think that closing up some of their state parks in not such a big deal in comparison.

One of the states that actually has about one quarter of their state parks slated to be closed sometime before summer of 2016 is California. At this time, two of California’s state senators, Noreen Evans and Joe Simitian, are desperately trying to introduce new legislation that will divert the closings and try to find other ways to keep those state parks open.

These senators believe there are options available to save the parks from closure by redirecting money from other areas of the budget and gaining monies for the parks by charging park fees, as well as replacing higher paid state park rangers with civilian workers at a lesser pay scale. “The state has never closed a state park, not even in the Great Depression.” is what senator Evans said in an interview with the Vallejo Times-Herald. It remains to be seen whether or not this legislation can be passed in time to prevent over 70 of the California State Parks from closing.

Arizona also had 13 of their parks scheduled to be closed, which is about half of the ones that state has. Fortunately, the parks are not closed, at least not yet, partly because of interventions by many local communities in an attempt to save the parks themselves. The solution is deemed temporary and not thought to be financially sustainable  by some.

Others states are also facing hard decisions with some of their parks. Florida is considering turning some of their lands over to private companies. Colorado faced losing 4 parks last year, but somehow they are still open. Other states like Georgia have turned some parks over to other agencies and reduced open hours and staff at others. Oklahoma had to close some parks that have not yet been reopened.

So, why should anyone be upset that a bunch of probably smaller state parks are closing in these mentioned states? It could effect some local economies for one. In some towns near these state parks, visitors come because they are near to home, not to mention long distance travelers that stop in to see the parks just because they are on their vacation route. Tourists are always good for local economy.

For most state residents, their state parks can be a matter of pride. Every state thinks there is something uniquely special about their landscape and wildlife and those things are usually showcased in state or national parks. No one wants to see any of their state parks close and if you are interested in helping your own state or another prevent closings in your area, there are websites that will allow you make contributions to help save these endangered state treasures from being shut down.