Blakeslee bill provides alternatives if State parks are closed
April 25, 2011
With budget cuts threatening California’s state parks, State Sen. Sam Blakeslee is supporting a bill to give local governments or private contractors a chance to take over operations of a closed state park for one to five years. [MercuryNews]
A California State University study says the annual spending resulting from visits to state parks runs an average of $6.9 billion a year, Blakeslee said. Cities such as Morro Bay rely on the economic boost from nearby parks.
Blakeslee’s SB356 would require the state to give counties and cities a chance to take over operations of closed parks and encourage the use of local workers and volunteers, according to the Mercury News.
Critics of the bill, question whether Republicans are seeking to privatize state parks.
Blakeslee contends his bill concentrates on local government and volunteer involvement in part to allay fears about the profit motive.
“There’s a lot of opportunity to expand volunteerism,” he said to the Mercury News.
In 2009, about 100 of the state’s 279 parks were slated for closure to help balance the budget. Even though the shutdowns were prevented by a one-time budget move, 60 parks were partially closed.