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Park Closures Questioned

Sacramento, CA — Who exactly made the decision and why?

California Department of Parks and Recreation officials were grilled as to how the 70 state parks set for closure were selected at an informational Assembly hearing that is being held today in Sacramento. 70 parks, including Railtown 1897 in Jamestown, will close next summer in order to save $22 million.

The Department has stated that the closure list is based on the parks statewide significance, visitation numbers, fiscal strength, ability to close, existing partnerships, infrastructure and land use restrictions. The 70 parks were selected by a committee put together by the Department of Parks and Recreation.

Democratic Assemblymen Jared Huffman and Roger Dickinson co-chaired the hearing and posed pointed questions to Bill Herms, Deputy Director of the Department of Parks and Recreation. A major question was why there are no reports available detailing why the individual parks were selected.

“The process is beginning to seem downright arbitrary and capricious in the absence of any data you can show us, and in the absence of any analysis you can show us,” said Huffman. “What we’re literally being told is, despite this descriptive set of sole factors that have to be included in a process, people gathered in a room and rolled out a list. That’s all we get to know.”

Herm stated, “Unfortunately we do not have data that we can bring to you to empirically describe that analysis.”

Huffman countered, “They threw all their notes away after leaving the room?”

“That is correct,” said Herm.

Herm noted that state park officials had a short window to put the list together, and claimed they were diligent in the selection process.

Assembly member Kristin Olsen also took part in the hearing, and her questions primarily focused on what is being done to make sure that interested non-profit groups and agencies can take over operations once the closures are implemented.

The hearing is continuing today in Sacramento. It is informational, so no formal action will be taken.