Friday, September 18, 2009

State Park Closures Could Cost Tens of Millions

By Robert Gammon
Fri, Sep 18, 2009 at 10:37 AM

The governor's plan to close more than 100 state parks could end up costing tens of millions of dollars, the San Jose Mercury News reports. An internal memo written by lawyers in the state parks department warned that the mass closure of parks could prompt private vendors to sue the state for lost profits. Those concessionaires generated $89 million in gross sales last year. In addition, park closures could open the state to liability if people are injured or set fires while trespassing in closed parks.

The memo also warns that the state could face federal fines if poachers kill endangered species while trespassing in the closed parks, and says the state could be held liable if the closures force California to miss a court-ordered deadline to make parks accessible for the disabled. The governor ordered the mass parks closure during last-minute cuts he made to the state budget. Last month, Democratic State Senate leader Darrell Steinberg sued the governor to block those eleventh-hour cuts.

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