Arnold Schwarzenegger seems to be reprising his role as the Terminator – terminating entry to 220 of California’s stunning state parks in a bid to protect the beleaguered state from suffering further in the recession…
Arnie has decided that state of California can no longer afford to run its parks. The state, one of the worst hit by the global economic downturn, is now facing a £16 billion budget shortfall and its Governor Mr Schwarzenegger is being forced to come up with new ways to economise.
Closing up the great outdoors would be taking away one of the great perks of Californian life. These proposed shutdowns would affect 80 per cent of the state’s nature reserves, historic sites and recreation areas as well as restricting access to 30 per cent of the state's coastline.
Affected areas would stretch from the mountains of the Sierra Nevadas to the beaches and wetlands of Big Sur, to the deserts of San Diego. All of the parks in the stunning Lake Tahoe are also earmarked for closure.
These national parks and sites cost a huge amount of money to maintain each year and California sees this as a way to start making up the huge economic shortfall.
Unsurprisingly, there is much opposition to the proposals, especially from conservationists who argue that closing the parks for a period of time could lead to irreparable damage and cutting down the number of rangers on duty could lead to an increase in vandalism.
Tourist bods argue that the planned closures may cause tourists to think again if planning a trip to the Golden State.
The Federal Government is also anti the plans and have threatened to seize control of the parks if Arnie insists on pushing ahead with his plans.
It seems California is not alone in these drastic proposals, though few other states are working on such a huge scale. Pennsylvania presented a budget proposal last month that would shut 35 of its 117 state parks.
“We really are just looking for ways we can keep those places open,” said David Siegenthaler, the National Parks Service's Manager for the state of California.
“In these economic times it is probably even more important that people have access to good places,” he added.
Critics also fear the closures could be irreversible. “Once those places are closed it becomes very difficult to re-open them,” said Traci Verardo Torres, of the California State Parks Foundation, which is protesting against the proposal.
News submitted by Dan Johnson, The Move Channel