If you want to save money, there are easier ways to go about it than by closing scores of state parks. It's surprising that Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger thought otherwise back when he announced that most of the state's 279 parks would close. Later, he amended that to 100.
But the list of specific parks never materialized, and now the governor is saying the number will be far lower -- possibly zero. A leaked memo written by lawyers for the Department of Parks and Recreation makes the reasons clear, outlining dozens of ways California could actually lose money by closing parks. We detailed some of the more obvious ones on this page in June, but the memo presents pitfalls we hadn't even imagined. If an endangered species is harmed, the state has to answer to the feds. It has contracts with concessionaires -- food outlets, riding stables and so forth -- that might have to be honored. Organizations that have lent valuable articles for display might demand their return if they will not be displayed to the public. Land and cash donations to the parks system are sometimes conditioned on parks remaining open. Closure of beaches would probably need special permits to comply with the state's Coastal Act.