State parks poised for big cut backs

January 17, 2011 7:18:13 PM PST
People all over the country enjoyed the Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. holiday with free admission to national parks. But in California, our state parks are once again on the chopping block. Gov. Jerry Brown's budget proposal calls for reducing hours and closing some all altogether.

Kai Lyddan, 2, can't wait for his ride on a big boat, across the bay to Angel Island State Park. It's his first, and could be his last visit there if the park is closed to help balance the state's budget.

"It would be a little bit disappointed, especially now that we have a child and we spend a lot of time going to parks, and it's something that we can do that's affordable and really to take advantage of living in a beautiful place like California, so it would definitely be a bummer for us," says John Lyddan, Kai's father.

There are 278 state parks. Brown's budget calls for a combination of reduced hours at some and closures of others for a $33 million savings over two years. The parks budget last year was $406 million.

Brown has asked the state parks director to submit a list for closure and reduced hours. East Bay Assm. Nancy Skinner, D-Alameda, is on the committee overseeing the budget.

"Our state has really been hurt by the global recession. Our revenues are down and we need to look everywhere we can at how we can create efficiencies and make cuts to deal with the deficit," says Skinner.

In November, voters rejected an $18 surcharge on vehicle registration to help fund the parks.

Corte Madera resident Steve Cady says he voted for it, he takes sons Jack and Duncan to Angel Island a few times a year.

"Me and my dad normally go out on bikes, but the other times it would be our whole family," says Jack, 7 years old.

"And sometimes we have school trips there," said Duncan.

"It's a real crime to not fund what people really get enjoyment in California from," says Steve.

That list of parks facing reduced hours or closure is due early next month.