State Parks Closures Unfortunate, Unavoidable 051511
California State Parks announced the closure of 70 state parks. The parks, a quarter of the 278 parks in the system, will impact about 5.5 million visitors a year. These small, often rural parks, like the Joss House in Weaverville, Malikoff Diggings and South Yuba Parks, and the Plumas-Eureka Park near Graeagle serve only a small percentage, less than 10%, of visitors to all state parks.
The closings are the end stage of shrinking funds for these treasured cultural luxuries, many of them historic and others of singular natural value. The selected sites will be open through summer, though with reduced activities. They will begin closing in September and the closures will be complete in 2012. It is estimated that the closures will save about $22 million.
The Parks department is willing to “forge new alliances” to keep the parks open. In short, the state is taking the approach to this they’ve taken to many services: let someone else pay for it. If someone will step forward and write a check, or volunteer for key services, they might keep some parks open, but monitoring such agreements also takes staff and money.
Having the parks closed will create enforcement headaches, as the people mistakenly believe the parks are theirs and will continue to use them. The same torpid economy which forces the government to close the parks has also created a large number of “transients” who are Americans with no homes. They might become confused enough to think of the Parks as their home, but they aren’t, they’re public property, but not for that public. Again we are reminded of Anatole France’s observation: "The law, in its majestic equality, forbids the rich and the poor alike to sleep under bridges, to beg in the streets, and to steal bread."
Other members of the public might hunt in some of the parks, killing the public’s deer. People might use the parks without the oversight of government representatives. They will engage in dangerous activities with the natural result that some of the stupid might die.
So far, there isn’t any indication that the parks will be sold.
See a map of the state park closures here