Sorry… we’re closed.

acorn-woodpecker.jpgOK, imagine this: You’re walking a winding path through Los Osos Oaks State Reserve, down near Morro Bay on the San Luis Obispo County coast, enjoying the whisper of the wind through the leaves of the magnificently twisted oak branches – a sublime communion with nature.

But wait, what’s that distant tapping sound? You look around… Could it be an Acorn Woodpecker, named for its tendency to drill holes into trees in which to store acorns? How great!

closed_sign.gifNo, that tapping sound isn’t an Acorn Woodpecker. It’s a state employee hammering nails into a “Closed” sign across the reserve’s entrance.

It hasn’t happened yet, but it could this summer; Los Osos Oaks is one of 48 state parks properties — including several right here in the greater Bay Area — listed for possible closure under the governor’s proposed budget cuts.

Now, surely California has a lot of pressing budget priorities — keeping struggling schools afloat; maintaining already-thin MediCal reimbursements; repairing our crumbling infrastructure; and literally dozens of other tough calls — but there’s something particularly galling about the closure of state parks. This is public land, bought and protected with taxpayer funds so all Californians — rich or poor, young or old, white or of color — could have a chance to see their own place in the natural world. It’s supposed to be an egalitarian and low-cost learning experience, recreational asset and natural resource perserved in perpetuity. Instead, after more than a decade of starving them for their barest maintenance needs, we’re looking at shutting 20 percent of ’em down for the foreseeable future.

Got a problem with all this? Go do something about it.

The California State Parks Foundation has a page through which you can contact your lawmakers.

Environment California has a similar page for sharing your thoughts with Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger.

Or, tell the governor directly.

See a full list of proposed closures of state parks, reserves, museums and beaches, plus a list of proposed state-beach lifeguard reductions, after the jump…

    Proposed closures

Anderson Marsh SHP
Armstrong Redwoods SR
Austin Creek SRA
Benicia Capitol SHP
Benicia SRA
California Citrus SHP
California State Mining & Mineral Museum
Candlestick Point SRA
Clear Lake SP
Del Norte Coast Redwoods SP
Estero Bluffs SP
Fort Ord Dunes SP
Fremont Peak SHP
George Hatfield SRA
Governor’s Mansion SHP
Great Valley Grasslands
Grizzly Creek Redwoods SP
Harmony Headlands SP
Henry W. Coe SP
La Purisima Mission SHP
Limeklin SP
Los Encinos SHP
Los Osos Oaks SR
Malakoff Diggins SHP
Manchester SB
McConnell SRA
Montana de Oro SP
Morro Strand SB
Mount San Jacinto SP
Petaluma Adobe SHP
Picacho SRA
Pio Pico SHP
Plumas-Eureka SP
Portola Redwoods SP
Providence Mountains SRA
Railtown 1897 SHP
Salton Sea SRA
San Simeon SP
Santa Susana Pass SHP
State Indian Museum
Sutter’s Fort SHP
Tomales Bay SP
Topanga SP
Wassama Round House SHP
Will Rogers SHP
William B. Ide Adobe SP
William Randolph Hearst Memorial SB
Woodson Bridge SRA

    Proposed lifeguard reductions

New Brighton SB
Seacliff SB
Manresa SB
Natural Bridges SB
Sunset SB
Bolsa Chica SB
Huntington SB
Doheny SB
San Clemente SB
San Onofre SB
Carlsbad SB
South Carlsbad SB
San Eliijo SB
Cardiff SB
Silver Strand SB
Torrey Pines SB

Josh Richman

Josh Richman covers state and national politics for the Bay Area News Group. A New York City native, he earned a bachelor’s degree in journalism from the University of Missouri and reported for the Express-Times of Easton, Pa. for five years before coming to the Oakland Tribune and ANG Newspapers in 1997. He is a frequent guest on KQED Channel 9’s “This Week in Northern California;” a proud father; an Eagle Scout; a somewhat skilled player of low-stakes poker; a rather good cook; a firm believer in the use of semicolons; and an unabashed political junkie who will never, EVER seek elected office.