Friday, September 14, 2007

Portions of National Forest May Close

In an effort to deal with shrinking budgets, Los Padres National Forest in California is examining ways to cut back on maintenance in the coming years by reducing seasons of use and closing a few recreation areas.

At the same time, the U.S. Forest Service is hoping to improve high-use campgrounds and bring in outside companies to run popular destinations.

"We are looking at less money so we have to find other ways of doing business," said Ken Kunert, landscape architect and recreation planner for Los Padres forest. "The objective is to bring developed recreation programs to a sustainable level."

Across the country, forests are undergoing similar "Recreation Facility Analyses" that critics fear could result in fewer recreation opportunities for the public as well as a privatization of the public resource. The reduced funding comes at a time when Los Padres forest officials expect visitor rates to increase by as much as 50 percent over the next few decades.
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