|May 29, 2009, 06:48 PM|
Glider Point (Chino Hills State Park) Closing?
Looks like we're going to loose another great slope site. I've been flying there for 20 years off and on, as many have. And also a large number of hikers are there every day, making use of a very much needed 'quick getaway' in the city. Too bad. Unless someone knows how we might save it.
From the Orange County Register, May 29th
Chino Hills State Park proposed for closure
May 29th, 2009, 7:55 am · 48 Comments · posted by Pat Brennan, green living, environment editor
Chino Hills State Park on the north edge of Orange County is one of 220 state parks proposed for closure, a response to the state’s deepening budget crisis.
The 14,000-acre park would not be sold, but instead would be “shuttered,” its gates locked, and placed on “caretaker” status, said Roy Stearns, spokesman for California State Parks.
About half of the park is within Orange County’s northern border. No other state parks in Orange County are proposed for closure, although several, including Huntington State Beach and Crystal Cove State Park, would stop receiving money from the state’s general fund and have to run on their own revenues. Click here to find a map of the parks. Click here for statewide lists of parks proposed for closure and those that would stay open.
Stearns said the proposal must be approved by the legislature, but that the recent failure of budget initiatives at the polls leaves little choice.
“Without some kind of additional funding for the parks system, this looks like it could be a certainty,” Stearns said.
At least 100,000 people visit the park each year — a number considered low, since other parks, including those in Orange County, can have visitorship in the millions.
State officials are proposing the closures to try to help make up a $24.3 billion shortfall. The closures could bring layoffs for rangers and other personnel, or shifts to other duties, although state officials said Friday those details have not yet been worked out.
The state hopes to save about $70 million with the park closures through June 30, 2010, and another $143 million if the parks remained closed during the following fiscal year.
If the entire state parks system and all 279 parks were closed — which is not being proposed — it would eliminate the park department’s $149 million budget, state parks officials said in a fact-sheet sent to reporters. That would be less than one percent of what is needed to make up even a $15 billion shortfall, the fact sheet says.
But Stearns contended that the state also would lose some $350 million a year generated by private businesses that rely on parks — hotels, restaurants, gas stations, park concessionaires, for example.
Chino Hills costs roughly $400,000 a year to operate, including staff salaries, said the park’s superintendent, John Rowe. The park itself generates roughly $60,000 to $80,000 a year in revenue, he said.
Although attendance figures show between 100,000 and 200,000 visitors per year, the park’s many entrances make keeping an accurate count difficult, Rowe said; actual attendance could be twice that.
Maintenance, safety of visitors and protection of sensitive habitat and rare and endangered species were Rowe’s main concerns if the park is closed.
About 90 percent of the park burned in the most recent large wildfire there, called the Freeway Complex fire. Restoring habitat and rebuilding bridges and other park amenities could stop if the park is closed, he said.
He said people would most likely continue using the park even if it were closed; a wildfire could place them in danger.
“During the Freeway Complex Fire, we had three rangers working…doing evacuations,” he said. “People in the park had no idea that just on the other side of the hill was one of the biggest fires that happened, ever, in Orange County. They were unaware of what was going on.”
Rangers are also trained to provide medical aid, he said; if the park were closed and a visitor were injured where there was no cell phone access, he worried that emergency help for that person could take some time.
Rowe said he believes the value of the state park system is far greater than the savings that could be acheived by the closures.
“This is one of the world’s most valuable park systems,” he said. “The diversity of state parks in the state of California is like no other in the world. It’s a treasure. It should be valued and cherished. It shouldn’t be mothballed and thrown away.”
|May 29, 2009, 07:20 PM|
Depends on what they mean by closed. Closed to entry or closed for amenities, like camping and such (mostly on the Chino end of the park. It does seem like the State wants to take out it's budget frustrations where people will feel it, rather that doing what they should, cut the give-away programs. Most parks almost pay for themselves, if they increased fees, they could keep them open. Hard to do in Chino Hills State Park, with so many entrances.
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