A new plan aimed at cutting California's budget could close 220 state parks. Among the most notable on the list are Will Rogers Ranch in Southern California, the Governor's Mansion in Sacramento...and Lake Tahoe's Emerald Bay. In fact, all of the California State Parks in the Sierra District would be closed.
Many families are facing shrinking budgets, and looking for less expensive ways to entertain the family. Parks officials say that’s one reason reservations are up this year. But visitors wouldn't be the only ones effected by the closure of the parks. According to a study in 2002, state parks generate roughly $6.5 billion in tourism revenue for nearby businesses. That’s money that could be lost to these communities if the parks close.
But not all small businesses are concerned about the proposal. Trisa Vincent, of Inside Outfitters, says a lack of parking is the biggest problem for Kings Beach merchants. She says if visitors could park in the empty lot for free, instead of paying the current fee of $8.00, more people might be willing to stop and shop. “I think it could help it if the parking was available to us,” she said “but if they could just swing in there and park for less or nothing that could help our business.” Down the street at Tahoe Paddle & Oar, Laura Gray says this is just the latest in a long line of proposed cuts that she expects to be defeated by common sense. “It would be devastating to our business if it did,” Gray said “but I'm not concerned about it at this point.”
Parks officials say they want to be very clear that if the closures are approved, they will not take effect until after the summer. They say anyone who has reservations over the next few months should continue to plan for that vacation.