Schwarzenegger Plans to Close 100 State Parks at Taxpayers Cost

SACRAMENTO, Sept. 18 (UPI) — California taxpayers could be liable for lost profits of concessionaires at the state parks the governor is considering closing, a parks department memo said.

The Schwarzenegger administration plans to close as many as 100 state parks, the San Jose Mercury News reported.

The parks department’s attorney drafted an internal memo explaining the state parks have contractual agreements with 188 private companies that provide concession services such as restaurants, boat rentals and gift shops. The concessions generated $89 million in gross sales for 2008.

The memo was written for state parks director Ruth Coleman. It circulated among high-level parks managers before being leaked to a Sacramento environmental group, Public Employees for Environmental Responsibility. It also says people who enter closed parks and are injured or start fires can hold the state responsibility for dangerous conditions, even if the park-goers were trespassing.

“Often we think we are saving money when in fact we are creating new costs and unintended consequences. I take this very seriously,” said Assemblyman Jared Huffman of San Rafael, chairman of the Assembly Water, Parks and Wildlife Committee

Copyright 2009 by United Press International

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