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Effort to keep state parks, beaches open

February 13, 2011 12:00:00 AM PST
California residents could learn this week which state parks will be closed as part of an effort by the state to save money. But officials say there may still be ways to keep some parks open.

Gov. Jerry Brown ordered a $22 million cut from the state's operating budget, which means state parks and beaches could be affected.

"It's like telling someone, 'You can live in paradise, but we're taking away one of the things that makes it paradise,'" said Julie Schoen of Sierra Madre.

The California State Parks Foundation says there is a way to save the parks and beaches. A report released by the foundation seeks to refocus park operating priorities.

Some of the recommendations include teaching more people how to use parks, bringing hands-on activities to the parks and integrating them with schools, cultural groups and health education. It also suggests having volunteers come to the parks and find new ways to make money in the parks, such as creating overnight accommodations.

One thing many state park and beach visitors oppose is paying more money.

"We're paying for everything. We're paying for parking, we're paying for staying overnight, and I don't know where the taxpayer money goes," said Abdul Humood of Northridge.

In November, the foundation tried to find a financial fix for the parks system, proposing an $18 annual fee on vehicle registration to fund park operations, but voters shot down the proposition.

If the state parks do close, it would be the first total closure in more than 150 years.