The United States is home to 6,624 state parks and has an annual attendance of over 700 million. Yet state parks are being threatened by budget cuts and economic downturn. Here’s a list of all state parks set to get the axe. Does your favorite make the cut?
It is worth noting that designating a single piece of land–especially one rich with resources–was quite radical for the early 1900s. Before the United States introduced its federal- and state-level park system, the concept was far from common. Thanks to Republican Teddy Roosevelt, the U.S. now has 41,725 miles of trail, 207,063 campsites, and 7,161 cabins and lodges across the state park system.
In fact, President Roosevelt couldn’t have said it better when he said “I recognize the right and duty of this generation to develop and use the nature resources of our land; but I do not recognize the right to waste them, or to rob, by wasteful use, the generations that come after us.”
Keep in mind that state park can include such designations as state recreation areas, state beaches, and state nature reserves
The state was one of the first to be threatened with park closures. Thirteen parks–almost half of the entire system–has been put on the chopping block. Some have been saved by local communities but Ellen Bilbrey, Arizona State Parks Public Information Officer, says “The systems are anything but sustainable [financially].”
Jerome State Historic Park temporarily saved!
McFarland State Historic Park temporarily saved!
Oracle State Park
San Rafael State Natural Area (never was opened)
Momolovi Ruins State Park temporarily saved!
Lyman Lake State Park temporarily saved!
Roper Lake State Park temporarily saved!
Tubac Presidio State Historic Park temporarily saved!
Tonto Natural Bridge State Park temporarily saved!
Alamo Lake State Park temporarily saved!
Lost Dutchman State Park temporarily saved!
Picacho Peak State Park temporarily saved!
Red Rock State Park temporarily saved!
Castle Crags State Park Postcard via Flickr
As a direct result of budget cuts proposed by Gov. Jerry Brown, California is set to close 70 of its state parks–25% of the entire state park system! What does this mean? It means that 36 of California’s 58 counties will see parks close. This is 40% of the state’s entire State Historic Parks and includes the second largest park in the entire state park system (Henry Coe State Park).
Anderson Marsh State Historic Park
Annadel State Park
Antelope Valley Indian Museum
Austin Creek State Recreational Area
Bale Grist Mill State Historic Park
Benbow Lake State Recreational Area
Benicia Capitol State Historic Park
Benicia State Recreational Area
Bidwell Mansion State Historic Park
Bothe-Napa Valley State Park
Brannan Island State Recreational Area
California Mining & Mineral Museum
Candlestick Point State Recreational Area
Castle Crags State Park
Castle Rock State Park
China Camp State Park
Colusa-Sacramento River State Recreational Area
Del Norte Coast Redwoods State Park
Fort Humboldt State Historic Park
Fort Tejon State Historic Park
Garrapata State Park
George J. Hatfield State Recreational Area
Governor’s Mansion State Historic Park
Gray Whale Cove State Beach
Greenwood State Beach
Grizzly Creek Redwoods State Park
Hendy Woods State Park
Henry W. Coe State Park
Jack London State Historic Park
Jug Handle State Natural Reserve
Leland Stanford Mansion State Historic Park
Limekiln State Park
Los Encinos State Historic Park
Malakoff Diggins State Historic Park
Manchester State Park
McConnell State Recreational Area
McGrath State Beach
Mono Lake Tufa State Natural Reserve
Morro Strand State Beach
Moss Landing State Beach
Olompali State Historic Park
Palomar Mountain State Park
Petaluma Adobe State Historic Park
Picacho State Recreational Area
Pio Pico State Historic Park
Plumas-Eureka State Park
Point Cabrillo Light Station
Portola Redwoods State Park
Providence Mountains State Recreational Area
Railtown 1897 State Historic Park
Russian Gulch State Park
Saddleback Butte State Park
Salton Sea State Recreational Area
Samuel P. Taylor State Park
San Pasqual Battlefield State Historic Park
Santa Cruz Mission State Historic Park
Santa Susana Pass State Historic Park
Shasta State Historic Park
South Yuba River State Park
Standish-Hickey State Recreational Area
Sugarloaf Ridge State Park
Tomales Bay State Park
Tule Elk State Natural Reserve
Turlock Lake State Recreational Area
Twin Lakes State Beach
Weaverville Joss House State Historic Park
Westport-Union Landing State Beach
William B. Ide Adobe State Historic Park
Woodson Bridge State Recreational Area
Zmudowski State Beach
Colorado Postcard via Flickr
Closures have been avoided this year with spending cuts and staff reductions. Bonny Lake State Park is being converted to a state designated wildlife area. It’s worth noting that four parks almost got the axe last year but have luckily remained open.
Robert Toombs House via Georgia State Parks
“We have reduced services, hours and staff at many locations, but the properties themselves have remained open for public use,” notes Kim Hatcher, Georgia State Parks & Historic Sites’ Public Affairs Coordinator. But while parks in Georgia have yet to be closed, it is not all peachy keen. To prevent closings, the state has in fact transferred ownership of some parks to other agencies.
John Tanner State Park (run by Carroll County)
Lapham-Patterson House (operated by The Thomas County Historical Society)
Robert Toombs House (run by Wilkes County)
The following parks are no longer state parks but remain open:
Hamburg became Outdoor Recreation Areas
In March of this year, the state of Oklahoma voted to close seven parks on August 15 due to budget cuts. Since that time, the Oklahoma Tourism & Recreation Department has managed to save four parks by working with tribal governments and non-profit groups. The remaining three are in negotiations.
Adair State Park
Beaver Dunes State Park saved!
Brushy Lake State Park saved!
Lake Eucha State Park
Wah-Sha-She State Park saved!
Boggy Depot State Park
Heavener Runestone State Park saved!
Robert J. Paquette, Chief of the Division of Parks and Recreation, says while “Rhode Island has closed two parks in the last three years, there is still access, we don’t open the beach, provide services or staffing.”
World War II State Park
Beach Pond State Recreational Area
Austin “Postcard” via Flickr
While the Lone Star state hasn’t closed any of its 94 parks, 23 of them have seen a significant reduction in staff and operations. The Sebastopol State Park did not close but was transferred to a local community.
Utah State Parks and Recreation was reduced by $3 million during the last legislative session but luckily, none of their 26 parks are in jeopardy of closing. That said, 47 employees were laid off along with 26 seasonal ones, so the parks are suffering “reduced hours, facilities that are less clean, and fewer law enforcement rangers,” says Deena Loyola of Utah’s Parks and Recreation Department.
If the agency witnesses another significant cut, some parks will be closed.
Currently, Washington state has no plans to shutdown any of its parks but if the department does not receive the projected revenue needed from their Discover Pass, park closures will then be put back on the table.
Parks Remaining Open
The following states have not closed any parks and have no plans to do so in the immediate future. Please enjoy them now, just in case that changes.
The following states have yet to respond about their state park system and whether or not they might face closures. If you have any information in regards to these states, please contact me @jerryjamesstone.
Here is a complete list of all 6,624 state parks. Enjoy!