State to Shutter 70 Parks, 4 in Monterey County
May 13, 2011
Monterey County will lose a quarter of its state parks and beaches to the state's budget crunch. State Parks announced plans on Friday to shutter 70 of its 278 parks and beaches to achieve an $11 million reduction, beginning in September.
Five parks in the area–Garrapata, Henry Coe, Limekiln, Moss Landing State Beach and Zmudowski State Beach–are each slated to close for two years.
"There’s no alternative to this," Resources Agency Secretary John Laird says. Since Laird's most recent year in the Legislature, 2007-08, state parks have experienced a 37 percent reduction in their general fund allocation.
Laird says the agency applied great scrutiny in developing the closure list and will be able to maintain 92 percent of visitors and 94 percent of revenues. The disproportionately high closure rate on the central coast is simply because, “The problem is, you can only close them where they are," Laird says.
Assemblyman Bill Monning (D-Monterey) said in a statement, "The targeted closures in Central California are particularly distressing as I am keenly aware of these parks' beauty and their contributions to our local economies." Monning says he is working to keep as many parks open as possible, adding, “When California was entrusted with state park lands, it was with the intent to protect and manage them in perpetuity."
Laird also expects economic losses to surrounding communities, like Moss Landing which will lose two of its beaches. "The goal was to try to limit the economic impact by trying to keep the most-visited parks open," he says.
Laird anticipates up to 250 departmental job losses, as well. With 500 vacant positions, he hopes to achieve most of the losses by reshuffling, but will initiate the layoff process as part of reorganization.
Included in the criteria for developing the list of closures is security. Closed parks will be locked up and see parking lot access eliminated. The 70 closures will take effect by July 1, 2012.