Angel Island reductions cut kids

Customized bike tours have been canceled on Angel Island, just one of the many recent casualties of state park service reductions.

On Sept. 25, Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger announced that instead of closing about 100 state parks to save $14.2 million, all 279 of them have to make service reductions that are effective Sunday.

Hundreds of elementary school students also lost the opportunity to camp on Angel Island this fall in addition to a chance to visit a detention camp used during the Spanish-American War.

“What we’re doing here is service cuts. We’re not closing any of the parks, or any part of the parks — except bathrooms, because we don’t have the staff to maintain and clean them,’’ island spokesman Dave Matthews said.

About half the bathroom facilities during the weekdays will be closed, along with a couple other tours that are not operated through the U.S. immigration station — “The Guardian of the Western Gate,” constructed in 1905 to control the flow of Chinese into the country.

Matthews said tours to the Immigration Station were consolidated because it’s where about 90 percent of the excursions are organized. He also said no one made the decision to cut the elementary school camp-out —  another organizer could not be hired  for the fall while waiting to hear if the island could stay open. But the position has not been filled for spring yet, either.

Marin District Superintendent Danita Rodriguez oversees seven state parks that were all affected. Rodriguez said the district had to compensate for a 50 percent reduction in its operations budget, a 50 percent reduction in its maintenance facility budget and a 100 percent reduction in its equipment budget.

Matthews said the cuts have also affected the staff’s response time for finding the owners of lost items, replacing lumber on broken buildings and general service and maintenance requests.

Most of the reductions will be effective until April, but so far the timeline for cuts has been vague, as well as whether the money will start flowing again, Rodriguez said.

The next steps will be analyzing how much money the reductions are saving and where they may need to reconsider their decisions.

“We’re already pretty much cut to the bone,’’ Rodriguez said. “We’ve closed parks due to fire dangers … but this is extreme. This is all pretty new to us.’’

Budget burden

All of the state’s 279 parks were asked to make reductions in services effective Sunday. Here are the local area reductions:

Marin district service reductions

Angel Island State Park   

  • Cut school programs, close some restrooms

China Camp State Park   

  • reduce days, close camps/loops

Mt. Tamalpais State Park   

  • Reduce days, reduce hours, close camps/loops, close some day use, close some
        restrooms

Olompali State Historic Park   

  • Reduce days, reduce hours, close restrooms,reduce cleaning

Samuel P. Taylor State Park   

  • Close camps/loops, close some day use, close some restrooms, reduce cleaning

Tomales Bay State Park   

  • Reduce days, reduce hours, close some day use, cut school programs

Source: California State Parks

kkelkar@sfexaminer.com

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