The United States is home to 6,624 state parks and has an annual attendance of over 700 million. Yet state parks are being threatened by budget cuts and economic downturn. Here's a list of all state parks set to get the axe. Does your favorite make the cut?
It is worth noting that designating a single piece of land--especially one rich with resources--was quite radical for the early 1900s. Before the United States introduced its federal- and state-level park system, the concept was far from common. Thanks to Republican Teddy Roosevelt, the U.S. now has 41,725 miles of trail, 207,063 campsites, and 7,161 cabins and lodges across the state park system.
In fact, President Roosevelt couldn't have said it better when he said "I recognize the right and duty of this generation to develop and use the nature resources of our land; but I do not recognize the right to waste them, or to rob, by wasteful use, the generations that come after us."
Keep in mind that state park can include such designations as state recreation areas, state beaches, and state nature reserves
Update: We have new information on Florida, California and Oregon. New York, Nevada and Louisiana have also been updated.
The state was one of the first to be threatened with park closures. Thirteen parks--almost half of the entire system--has been put on the chopping block. Some have been saved by local communities but Ellen Bilbrey, Arizona State Parks Public Information Officer, says "The systems are anything but sustainable [financially]."
- Jerome State Historic Park temporarily saved!
- McFarland State Historic Park temporarily saved!
- Oracle State Park
- San Rafael State Natural Area (never was opened)
- Momolovi Ruins State Park temporarily saved!
- Lyman Lake State Park temporarily saved!
- Roper Lake State Park temporarily saved!
- Tubac Presidio State Historic Park temporarily saved!
- Tonto Natural Bridge State Park temporarily saved!
- Alamo Lake State Park temporarily saved!
- Lost Dutchman State Park temporarily saved!
- Picacho Peak State Park temporarily saved!
- Red Rock State Park temporarily saved!
As a direct result of budget cuts proposed by Gov. Jerry Brown, California is set to close 70 of its state parks--25% of the entire state park system! What does this mean? It means that 36 of California's 58 counties will see parks close. This is 40% of the state's entire State Historic Parks and includes the second largest park in the entire state park system (Henry Coe State Park). You can petition to save California's parks here.
- Anderson Marsh State Historic Park
- Annadel State Park
- Antelope Valley Indian Museum
- Austin Creek State Recreational Area
- Bale Grist Mill State Historic Park
- Benbow Lake State Recreational Area
- Benicia Capitol State Historic Park
- Benicia State Recreational Area
- Bidwell Mansion State Historic Park
- Bothe-Napa Valley State Park
- Brannan Island State Recreational Area
- California Mining & Mineral Museum
- Candlestick Point State Recreational Area
- Castle Crags State Park
- Castle Rock State Park
- China Camp State Park
- Colusa-Sacramento River State Recreational Area
- Del Norte Coast Redwoods State Park
- Fort Humboldt State Historic Park
- Fort Tejon State Historic Park
- Garrapata State Park
- George J. Hatfield State Recreational Area
- Governor's Mansion State Historic Park
- Gray Whale Cove State Beach
- Greenwood State Beach
- Grizzly Creek Redwoods State Park
- Hendy Woods State Park
- Henry W. Coe State Park
- Jack London State Historic Park
- Jug Handle State Natural Reserve
- Leland Stanford Mansion State Historic Park
- Limekiln State Park
- Los Encinos State Historic Park
- Malakoff Diggins State Historic Park
- Manchester State Park
- McConnell State Recreational Area
- McGrath State Beach
- Mono Lake Tufa State Natural Reserve
- Morro Strand State Beach
- Moss Landing State Beach
- Olompali State Historic Park
- Palomar Mountain State Park
- Petaluma Adobe State Historic Park
- Picacho State Recreational Area
- Pio Pico State Historic Park
- Plumas-Eureka State Park
- Point Cabrillo Light Station
- Portola Redwoods State Park
- Providence Mountains State Recreational Area
- Railtown 1897 State Historic Park
- Russian Gulch State Park
- Saddleback Butte State Park
- Salton Sea State Recreational Area
- Samuel P. Taylor State Park
- San Pasqual Battlefield State Historic Park
- Santa Cruz Mission State Historic Park
- Santa Susana Pass State Historic Park
- Shasta State Historic Park
- South Yuba River State Park
- Standish-Hickey State Recreational Area
- Sugarloaf Ridge State Park
- Tomales Bay State Park
- Tule Elk State Natural Reserve
- Turlock Lake State Recreational Area
- Twin Lakes State Beach
- Weaverville Joss House State Historic Park
- Westport-Union Landing State Beach
- William B. Ide Adobe State Historic Park
- Woodson Bridge State Recreational Area
- Zmudowski State Beach
Closures have been avoided this year with spending cuts and staff reductions. Bonny Lake State Park is being converted to a state designated wildlife area. It's worth noting that four parks almost got the axe last year but have luckily remained open.
FloridaA new proposal could turn some of the state's more precious lands over to private companies, 50 parks in all. You can petition to save Florida's parks here.
"We have reduced services, hours and staff at many locations, but the properties themselves have remained open for public use," notes Kim Hatcher, Georgia State Parks & Historic Sites' Public Affairs Coordinator. But while parks in Georgia have yet to be closed, it is not all peachy keen. To prevent closings, the state has in fact transferred ownership of some parks to other agencies.
- John Tanner State Park (run by Carroll County)
- Lapham-Patterson House (operated by The Thomas County Historical Society)
- Robert Toombs House (run by Wilkes County)
- Sprewell Bluff
- Bobby Brown
- Providence Canyon
- Hamburg became Outdoor Recreation Areas
Idaho"We are not in the process of closing any State Parks in Idaho. We closed one park temporarily last fiscal year to save costs and re-opened. It was Dworshak State Park. The property itself is owned by the Army Corp of Engineers. We manage it as s State Park on their behalf," says Jennifer Blazek, Idaho Department of Parks and Recreation Communications Manager.
LouisianaWhile the state did suffer park closures a few years back, it was able to reopen them all by slashing operating hours for historic sites to only five days a week.
- Centenary State Historic Site reopened August 2010
- Marksville State Historic Site reopened August 2010
- Fort Jesup State Historic Site reopened November 2010
- Plaquemine Lock State Historic Site reopened January 2011
Nevada"Nevada State Parks have suffered, like California, from a series of budget cuts. Despite a 60% reduction in our budget we have only had to give up one park [Nevada's first successful ranch] and that was a historic site we operated in partnership with Douglas County. As of this date, there is a friends group operating the site in cooperation with Douglas County," says David K. Morrow, Administrator, Nevada Division of State Parks.
- Dangberg Ranch
Back in 2009, 100 parks and historic sites were hit with shorter days and shorter seasons, and still remain in effect. More budget cuts and layoffs led to six parks having no annual staff, three transferred to local governments and one being operated by a thrid-party group.
OklahomaIn March of this year, the state of Oklahoma voted to close seven parks on August 15 due to budget cuts. Since that time, the Oklahoma Tourism & Recreation Department has managed to save four parks by working with tribal governments and non-profit groups. The remaining three are in negotiations.
- Adair State Park
- Beaver Dunes State Park saved!
- Brushy Lake State Park saved!
- Lake Eucha State Park
- Wah-Sha-She State Park saved!
- Boggy Depot State Park
- Heavener Runestone State Park saved!
Rhode IslandRobert J. Paquette, Chief of the Division of Parks and Recreation, says while "Rhode Island has closed two parks in the last three years, there is still access, we don't open the beach, provide services or staffing."
- World War II State Park
- Beach Pond State Recreational Area
While the Lone Star state hasn't closed any of its 94 parks, 23 of them have seen a significant reduction in staff and operations. The Sebastopol State Park did not close but was transferred to a local community.
UtahUtah State Parks and Recreation was reduced by $3 million during the last legislative session but luckily, none of their 26 parks are in jeopardy of closing. That said, 47 employees were laid off along with 26 seasonal ones, so the parks are suffering "reduced hours, facilities that are less clean, and fewer law enforcement rangers," says Deena Loyola of Utah's Parks and Recreation Department.
If the agency witnesses another significant cut, some parks will be closed.
WashingtonCurrently, Washington state has no plans to shutdown any of its parks but if the department does not receive the projected revenue needed from their Discover Pass, park closures will then be put back on the table.
Parks Remaining OpenThe following states have not closed any parks and have no plans to do so in the immediate future. Please enjoy them now, just in case that changes.
UnknownThe following states have yet to respond about their state park system and whether or not they might face closures. If you have any information in regards to these states, please contact me @jerryjamesstone.
Here is a complete list of all 6,624 state parks. Enjoy!