State parks are being closed down one after another in US. Governments plead lack of funds.
The State Parks Board of Arizona has unanimously voted to close 13 parks by June 3. Eight others had already been closed, and the decision would leave nine open -- but only if the board can raise $3 million this year.
"It's a dark day for the Arizona state parks system," said Renee Bahl, the system's executive director.
"We have 65,000 acres around the state and the majority of them are closing."
The Arizona parks receive about 2.3 million visitors per year who bring about $266 million into the state, Bahl said.
"It's unfortunate that a short-term recession is having an impact on our future," Bahl said.
Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger came under severe criticism for his move to close down 220 of California's 278 state parks, but, as protests mounted, he changed tack to say he could indeed provide up to $140 million by expanding oil drilling off the Santa Barbara coast - it too has been predictably slammed by environmentalists. The issue is still hanging fire.
Louisiana and Iowa may close parks due to budget problems. Other states have transferred their parks to local control to save money, Nicole Santa Cruz said, reporting for Los Angeles Times.
In Idaho, Gov. C.L. "Butch" Otter has proposed disbanding the state parks department, saving $10 million by selling the headquarters and shifting management of 30 state parks and recreation programs to another agency, said Jennifer Wernex, spokeswoman for the Idaho Parks and Recreation Department.
Phil McKnelly, the executive director of the National Assn. of State Park Directors, lamented the decision to close parks amid a recession.
"This is the time when people need to be getting out and releasing stress," he said.