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L.A. County to restrict swimming at 3 lakes

Beaches will be closed Mondays through Wednesdays until Sept. 7 at Castaic Lake State Recreation Area, Frank G. Bonelli Regional Park and Santa Fe Dam Recreation Area.

July 04, 2009|Molly Hennessy-Fiske

Budget cuts have forced Los Angeles County parks officials to restrict swimming at three lakes this summer.

Starting Monday, parks officials are closing beaches at Castaic Lake State Recreation Area in Castaic, Frank G. Bonelli Regional Park in San Dimas and Santa Fe Dam Recreation Area in Irwindale on Mondays, Tuesdays and Wednesdays through Sept. 7.

Beach closure signs will be posted at park entrances, parking lots and shorelines, a parks spokesman said.

The closures come after county parks officials were forced to make a 7% budget cut. All county departments faced cuts of 7% to 15%.

Rather than eliminate any of the county's 225 lake lifeguards, who serve swimmers at the three lakes, parks officials reduced their hours by 20%, said Hugo Maldonado, the county's chief lake lifeguard.

Maldonado, who has worked for the county since 1990, said the reduction will mostly affect seasonal lifeguards. He said the county took similar steps during the 1992 recession.

"This is an unprecedented downturn in our economy and it's resulted in a significant decline in revenue for the county of Los Angeles," Maldonado said, adding that parks officials chose to close beaches on "the least busiest days" to lessen the effect on park visitors and park operations.

Maldonado said no lifeguard positions will be eliminated by the closures, and lifeguards will continue to patrol the lakes and beaches when they are closed.

In addition to the beach closures, parks officials said they plan to close some county nature centers on Mondays, including Deane Dana Friendship Community Regional Park and Nature Center in San Pedro; Devil's Punchbowl Natural Area in Pearblossom; Eaton Canyon Nature Center in Pasadena; Placerita Canyon Natural Area and Nature Center in Newhall; San Dimas Canyon Community Regional Park and Nature Center; Vasquez Rocks Natural Area and Nature Center in Agua Dulce; and Whittier Narrows Nature Center in South El Monte.

The facilities will remain open if a holiday falls on a Monday, officials said.

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molly.hennessy-fiske @latimes.com

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