SACRAMENTO — Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger, who nearly closed a third of California's parks this summer to save money and vetoed a pair of park-protection bills over the weekend, is being honored later this month by a national group -- for defending public lands in the state.
Schwarzenegger will be honored Oct. 29 with the National Park Trust's Bruce F. Vento Public Service Award in Washington, D.C. He won "for his leadership and innovation in the protection of public lands in California and his lifelong commitment to children's health and to connecting them with the outdoors," according to a statement by the group.
The award is given in connection with an annual fundraiser by the nonprofit group, which focuses on protecting national parkland.
Grace Lee, the National Park Trust's executive director, said in an e-mail that Schwarzenegger was selected late last year, "based on the governor's overall record on conservation." The group later expressed "concerns" to Schwarzenegger about the closure plan, its officials have said.
In naming Schwarzenegger, the organization cited legislation that he signed in 2004 to create the Sierra Nevada Conservancy, which establishes funding to protect 25 million acres, and his achievements on the environment, youth fitness and other issues.