California's state parks threatened

Potential for 48 parks to be closed

Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger's plan to combat California's projected budget crisis includes across-the-board program reductions, including many cuts to the state parks department, according to a recent International Mountain Bike Association (IMBA) report.

The new proposal would close 48 parks, including popular destinations like Henry Coe and Topanga Canyon.

According to Drew Vankat, policy analyst for IMBA, California State Parks has been victim to several significant budget reductions in past years and the new plan would seriously imperil the agency's ability to serve Californians, including more than five million mountain bikers.

"Millions of Californians rely on State Parks for their main source of recreation," he said. "At a time when health and obesity are major issues for California citizens, parks are a viable resource that contributes to mental and physical health.

"The California State Park System is one of the best in the nation," he added. "The proposed budget cuts, on top of significant past reductions, will further jeopardize stewardship of the state's precious natural and cultural resources."

In comparison to other departments, California's State Parks has an extremely small budget and therefore a reduced capacity to absorb cuts, according to Vankat. The Governor's plan calls for a US$13.3 million reduction, but this will close 48 parks and reduce seasonal staff hours by 50 percent.

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