In an unprecedented year of pandemic and natural disasters, cash-strapped state parks now face funding cutbacks.
BY MILES HOWARD
PUBLISHED SEPTEMBER 18, 2020
The closure of Yosemite National Park due to heavy smoke from the wildfires in California sparked national attention. But another story is smoldering in the state: 34 of its 300 state parks have had to shut down due to the fires, which have brought additional pressure on public spaces already straining under a surge of pandemic crowds.
California is experiencing its worst fire season ever, as firefighters continue to battle more than two dozen major fires that have killed 25 people and left scores more displaced. So far, this unprecedented year for wildfires has seen 3.3 million acres ravaged across the Golden State—a record-breaking 26 times more than the acreage lost to fire last year.
The flames have destroyed countless structures, including historic facilities in Big Basin Redwoods State Park, California’s oldest state park and home to iconic thousand-year-old redwoods. In August, Big Basin temporarily closed its gates; it’s unclear when the park will reopen.
In California and across the country, the combination of natural disaster, pandemic, and economic retrenchment against the threat of recession spell trouble for the future of state parks...
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