2010 is not shaping up to be an easy year for our state parks. In California, Governor Schwarzenegger has once again proposed pulling out the proverbial rug from under the feet of California State Parks by eliminating all funding for parks from the state operating budget's general fund. Instead, he wants to make them financially rely on offshore oil drilling that hasn't even been approved yet. (If you want to take action and express your discontent to politicians with this plan, click here to join the California State Park Foundation's campaign.) Is it any wonder that California's state parks have been placed on the America's 11 Most Endangered Places list by the National Trust for Historic Preservation?
Of course, California isn't the only state-park system facing huge challenges, given the current economic situation. Dramatically, Arizona State Parks has decided to close all but 9 of its parks by June 2010, after it received additional funding cuts from its state legislature. Wave good-bye to Sedona's Red Rock State Park, Flagstaff's Riordan Mansion, Winslow's Homolovi Ruins and Tombstone's historic courthouse. Up north in Washington state, Governor Christine Gregoire has proposed closing 13 state parks. Some of Idaho's state parks are also on deck for closure later this year, due to that state's budget crunch.
Why can't we all live in Oregon, whose parks are partly funded by a state lottery? That makes Oregon state parks immune to drastic budget cuts by state legislators. At least until 2014, when the parks' special-funding law comes up for renewal. Start crossing your fingers now, folks.
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Photo: William Randolph Hearst Memorial State Beach (Michael Connolly, Jr.)