By Jeff Mitchell
Last Friday the list of 70 state parks that will be shut down in July 2012 as a result of budget cuts was released representing 25% of the state parks system. Included in the list are 2 parks in North County, Palomar Mountain State Park and San Pasqual Battlefield State Historic Park. The proposed closures will save an estimated $11 million in the next fiscal year, and $22 million the year after, a mere drop in the bucket to the billion-dollar deficit facing the state.
The Palomar Mountain State Park is a 1,900-acre site on Palomar Mountain that includes camping, fishing, picnicking, and hiking along with distant views of the Pacific Ocean. The San Pasqual Historic Park commemorates the 1846 clash in the Mexican-American war. Both areas are local jewels that are enjoyed by local families and visitors who come to enjoy the natural beauty along with the historic aspects.
“Closing state parks is not a task that gives anyone joy, but we are experiencing turbulent times that necessitate deep, almost unthinkable cuts to public services,” Gov. Jerry Brown said. Elizabeth Goldstein, president of the California State Parks Foundation responded, “At a time when local communities are struggling to be part of the state’s recovery, this proposal shuts the door to a vital part of our economy. Closing these parks is going in the wrong direction,” and I agree. Gov. Brown needs to make cuts, but, before eliminating a quarter of our state parks, he needs to address the hundreds of millions wasted tax dollars from Caltrans overruns as revealed by a recent California Independent State Auditor that was released by State Sen. Joel Anderson. If the cuts need to be 25%, let’s do it across the board for all state agencies.
— Jeff Mitchell