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Prices at Calif. state parks going up

August 17, 2009 9:13:16 AM PDT
If you're planning on visiting a California state park or beach, be prepared to dig a little deeper into your pockets because the prices are going up.The fee hike goes into effect on Monday.

Summer vacation may be winding down, but camping spots at Bolsa Chica State Park remain sold out every day of the week.

"They're still paying, they still come," said Ken Chauncey, a Bolsa Chica State Park volunteer.

Chauncey said even with fees jumping between 25 and 50 percent at state parks and beaches, it's still a popular way to vacation.

"People have nowhere else to go because they can't afford it, so they spend the extra dollars to come here and spend a few days, and that's their vacation.

State officials said the added revenue will generate about $5 million over the next three years. The money is act as a stop-gap to try to stop closing some of the locations.

But even with the higher fees, the extra revenue won't help save all locations from closing. As many as 100 state parks and recreation areas could be shut down due to California's money woes.

Daily use parking fees will increase from $2 to $5.

State park camping fees will jump from $10 to $21 a night.

Parking at state beaches, including Huntington, San Onofre and Bolsa Chica, will now be $15 a day.

The Parkin family traveled from Victorville to spend a week beachside before school starts.

"You get to let your dog off the leash and let him get some exercise," said 6-year-old Ellen Parkin.

Even with camping fees increasing, the Parkin family says it's well worth the extra cash.

"We love to come here ... how can you put a price on that," said Tonja Parkin

Officials said in the midst of a money crunch, they couldn't afford to keep prices where they have been.

The price hike reflects a 25 percent increase in fees for state parks. State beaches are seeing closer to a 50 percent hike.

Regulars say it's not a bad price if you consider where the extra revenues go. Fees pay for things like safety patrols, restroom services and trash pickup along the California coast.

"I think it's necessary because a lot of people that come down here leave trash on the beach. They don't clean up after themselves, so we need employed people to do that," said surfer Karl Koppenhaver.

The state will decide next month which areas will be closing in light of the financial crisis in Sacramento.

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