California Governor Announces Plan to Keep State Parks Open

Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger today (Sept. 25) unveiled a plan that would
allow for all state parks to remain open without increasing the
Department of Parks and Recreation budget appropriation.

Following the passage of the budget reduction in July, the governor
tasked the Department of Parks and Recreation and the Department of
Finance to work together on a plan to achieve $14.2 million in budget
savings in the current fiscal year while mitigating the number of park
closures.

“Working closely with my Departments of Finance and Parks and
Recreation, we have successfully found a way to avoid closing parks this
year,” said Gov. Schwarzenegger. “This is fantastic news for all
Californians.”

Below is the memo from the Department of Parks and Recreation and the Department of Finance outlining the budget solution:

After several weeks of analyzing Parks’ initial proposal to
achieve savings in the 2009-10 budget, an alternative solution has been
developed that achieves the necessary savings and avoids full and
complete park closures.

Parks’ initial proposal included a plan to fully and partially
close over 100 state parks. Several of the parks identified on the
initial closure list had among the highest attendance throughout the
state park system. However, after further discussion and analysis,
Finance was able to determine that several of these parks on the closure
list were actually not being proposed to be closed, but were going to
remain open with substantial service reductions.

Furthermore, the parks that were identified on the closure list
included closure plans that differed significantly from one park to
another. In some cases, the parks were proposed to be fully, or 100
percent, closed. In other cases, the parks were proposed to be less than
1 percent closed.

To avoid full and complete park closures while achieving the
budgeted savings, the administration can take the following actions:

In the current fiscal year, Parks can achieve one-time budget savings in the following manner:

1. Maintenance and Equipment: Reduce ongoing maintenance for the
remainder of 2009-10 and eliminate all major equipment purchases, such
as vehicle replacements. (Savings estimated at $12.1 million)

2. Service Reductions: Reducing hours and/or days of operation at
most State Park units, reducing expenditures on seasonal staff, reducing
staffing and operations at Headquarters (Savings estimated at $2.1
million). Examples of service reductions include; (1) some facilities
will close weekdays and be open on weekends and holidays, (2) portions
of a unit may be closed, such as the back loop of a campground, (3) for a
park with multiple campgrounds, one whole campground or day use
facility may be closed while the rest of the park remains open, and (4)
parks that already close due to seasonal conditions may see a longer
closure. Service reductions will be planned to minimize disruptions to
visitors, achieve cost savings and maintain park fee revenues.

3. To achieve the $22.2 million of ongoing future General Fund
savings that was included in the 2009 Budget Act, the Administration can
explore various solutions for inclusion in the January 10 budget to
generate ongoing budget savings while minimizing full and complete park
closures.
From California Department of Parks and Recreation

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