From: Associated Press
Published October 13, 2004 12:00 AM

Budget Problems Threaten Parkland Buys in California, Says Report

SACRAMENTO, California — California has stopped acquiring land for state parks for the foreseeable future because it cannot afford to staff and maintain new parkland, according to a newspaper report.

Facing a budget deficit next year of up to $10 billion, state public works officials quietly decided in March to stop accepting or buying new parkland, the San Jose Mercury News reported recently.

Following outcries from environmentalists and conservationists, however, the California Public Works Board agreed to add 1,000 acres of redwoods to Castle Rock State Park in the Santa Cruz Mountains.

But in a compromise with park supporters, the board also decided to keep the newly acquired acreage unmarked and closed to the public to save money.

Critics of the plan note that voters have approved more than $10 billion in bond money for new parks and water projects over the past four years. Some argue that no other California governor has halted all land purchases for parks, even during the Depression.

"They haven't stopped acquiring lands for new prisons or DMV offices. Somehow they have singled out state parks for special punishment," said Fred Keeley, a former Santa Cruz assemblyman.

Bob Campbell, general counsel for the governor's Finance Department, countered by saying, "we're not antipark or anti-acquisition. But we are mindful of the budget situation. And we have to take that into account."

So far this year, the Public Works Board has approved the acquisition of 4,075 additional acres for state parks, the newspaper said. By comparison, the board acquired 62,969 acres in 2002 and 2003.

Source: Associated Press

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