Park Closure to Leave Desert Businesses High and Dry?

Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger’s proposal to close a majority of state parks to help reduce the budget deficit could greatly harm local economies, including Borrego Springs, which relies heavily on tourism brought by Anza-Borrego Desert State Park, one organization says.

According to the Anza-Borrego Foundation, which counts 2,300 members, visitors who come to the park often stop in town and the park’s closure would devastate businesses there.

The state park’s natural landscapes, wildlife habitat and mild winter weather draw a million visitors annually and a loss of that magnitude would be crippling, particularly in an already unstable economy, says Briana Ross, spokeswoman for the nonprofit that generates funds for park programs by selling educational materials at the Anza-Borrego Desert State Park’s Visitor Center, according to its Web site.

Closure of the park, which is California’s largest, would constitute closure of 20 percent of the land mass of San Diego County, she adds. Aside from Anza-Borrego, Cuyamaca Rancho and Palomar Mountain state parks are on the list of proposed closures, as are Silver Strand and Carlsbad state beaches, Border Field State Park and San Pasqual Battlefield State Historic Park.