Calif. state park visitors lament closings

CALAVERAS COUNTY — As the state prepares to close 100 state parks, visitors to one of them say they'd rather pay more than see it close.

At Calaveras Big Trees State Park near Arnold, many visitors have made donations, ranger Bryan Belluz said Sunday. No one complained about the higher day use fee of $8, up from $7, or the higher camping fee of $35, up from $25.

"Everyone's happy about the prices going up in the park," he said. "They want their parks to stay open."

No one knows if Big Trees will be among the parks to close. Soon after Labor Day, the state is scheduled to release the list of 100 state parks — out of 280 — that it plans to close for much of the year.

Technically, people still could access some parks for day hikes, albeit at their own risk.

The savings will come from suspended or reduced visits by park rangers, maintenance workers and park aides. Daily spending to keep lights on, print brochures, buy toilet paper and haul garbage will come to a halt.

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