Hasta La Vista, Baby: Arnold May Close 220 California State Parks


Photo via Fog City Journal

Anyone even idly following California politics knows what mess the state is in at the moment--Arnold Schwarzenegger and the state Congress have yet to pass a budget, cuts to vital programs are looming, and the Gov's approval ratings have plummeted. In his latest attempt to slash the budget deficit, however, the stakes have been raised--Gov. Schwarzenegger has proposed cuts that would lead to the closing of 220 California state parks.O Governator, we thought we knew ye! After all, he made the cut for one of our 6 greenest Republicans in office, and has been a vocal supporter for clean energy and green jobs initiatives. But perhaps the green only goes skin deep . . .

From the AP:

Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger's budget cuts could mean the closing of up to 220 state parks, among them the home of the world's tallest tree and other attractions that draw millions of visitors. Schwarzenegger this week recommended eliminating $70 million in parks spending through June 30, 2010. An additional $143.4 million would be saved in the following fiscal year by keeping the parks closed.

What's puzzling about the decision is the relatively small savings this would provide--California's the 6th largest economy in the world, remember. A couple hundred million seems like an awful small amount when considering the gain: state parks draw tourism revenue every year, and are a beloved institution to many Californians. It seems like the political loss alone--the move is sure to be deeply unpopular--wouldn't be worth the minor gains to the budget.

Nonetheless, if the budget passes as is, Californians may be bidding adieu to the vast majority of their state parks:

The state parks department said a $70 million cut would leave it with enough money to run just 59 of California's 279 state parks.

Schwarzenegger's administration has said that cutting park funding a "worst case scenario", and there's still a chance alternative cuts could be made. Let's hope so--closing 220 state parks would be bad news on many, many levels.

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Tags: California | Conservation | Economics

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