California to close 70 state parks; none in Truckee/Tahoe |

California to close 70 state parks; none in Truckee/Tahoe

LAKE TAHOE and#8212; The California Department of Parks and Recreation announced Friday a plan to close 70 of its 278 state parks and recreation areas beginning in 2012.

None of Lake Tahoeand#8217;s or Truckeeand#8217;s state-run parks or recreation are slated for closure.

and#8220;Fortunately, the basin parks didnand#8217;t fall into this particular list, which is great,and#8221; said acting Sierra District superintendent Matt Greene.

The closures are due to more than $30 million in cuts over the next two years to the departmentand#8217;s budget.

and#8220;We regret closing any park,and#8221; said Ruth Coleman, director of California State Parks, in a statement. and#8220;But with the proposed budget reductions over the next two years, we can no longer afford to operate all parks within the system.and#8221;

According to the press release issued by the department, six criteria were used to determine which parks should be closed: statewide significance, visitation, fiscal strength, ability to physically close, existing partnerships, infrastructure and land use restrictions.

The departmentand#8217;s goals surrounding the closures are to protect the most significant natural and cultural resources as well as the closed parks and maintain as much public access and revenue as possible, according to the statement. Though more than a quarter of Californiaand#8217;s parks will close, at least 92 percent of attendance and 94 percent of revenue will be retained.

and#8220;These cuts are unfortunate, but the stateand#8217;s current budget crisis demands that tough decisions be made,and#8221; said secretary of the California Resources Agency John Laird. and#8220;Hopefully, Republicans in the legislature will agree to allow California voters to decide whether we extend currently existing taxes or make deeper cuts to our parks.and#8221;

Nonprofits such as Sierra State Parks Foundation helped Tahoeand#8217;s parks avoid closure, Greene said.

and#8220;I want to give credit to all nonprofits for keeping our parks off this list,and#8221; he said. and#8220;Not only Sierra State Parks Foundation, but all the non-profits that help out our parks.and#8221;

The nonprofits are a great way for individuals to support specific parks without donating to the state, Greene said.

The parks and recreation department will continue to seek partnerships with public and private entities to operate the parks.

and#8220;With this announcement, we can begin to seek additional partnership agreements to keep open as many parks as possible,and#8221; Coleman said. and#8220;We already have 32 operating agreements with our partners and#8212; cities, counties and non-profits and#8212; to operate state parks, and will be working statewide to expand that successful template.and#8221;

The department believes the methodology used preserves the and#8220;diversity of experiences wanted by visitors across the state,and#8221; meaning not all of one type of park, such as state beaches, state nature reserves or state historic parks, will be closed, the release stated.

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