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Stewards of the Coast and Redwoods is very pleased that the Governor responded positively to the people of California and reversed his proposal to close state parks. The people of Sonoma County should feel very proud of their efforts because we were noticed, and if the Governor didn’t know about Armstrong Redwoods and Austin Creek before this, he sure does now! Thousands of petitions, postcards, and letters from children and adults were sent to his office letting him know how important Armstrong and Austin Creek are to our community.
The following statement was taken directly from the governor’s website:
Governor’s May Revise Restores Funding For California’s State Parks While California’s structural budget deficit persists due to slower rates of economic growth, the May Revise makes some positive adjustments, including the restoration of funding for the Department of Parks and Recreation to ensure that all state parks remain open to the public and state beaches are staffed with seasonal lifeguards. The Governor’s proposed budget included a $13.3 million General Fund reduction, which would have resulted in closing 48 state parks and reducing seasonal lifeguards at state beaches by a minimum of 50 percent. The May Revise proposes $13.3 million in funding for the Department of Parks and Recreation to keep California’s state parks open. This proposal will fully restore the budget reduction and keep parks open by providing $11.8 million General Fund and $1.5 million from increased state park fees. The Governor’s May Revise is a responsible budget that includes a combination of cuts, new revenues, and creative ideas. The fee increases will range from $1 to $2 at selected state parks where the effect on attendance would be minimal. ***end
While this lessens the immediate threat to our parks, it is merely a band aid for this coming fiscal year. What this campaign has brought to light is the fact that our parks are drastically underfunded and in great need of a long-term sustainable funding source to keep them well-maintained and affordable to all visitors. Our efforts are not over. It is important that we continue to advocate for our state parks to address the 1.2 billion dollar deferred maintenance shortfall. Our parks are drastically in need of maintenance and repairs. In the Russian River District the deferred maintenance figure is over a million dollars. Stewards will continue our efforts to support the statewide campaign to secure funding for our parks, as well as a local effort to bring funding into our local parks to protect and preserve them into the future.
One way that you can help is to support the third annual Old Grove Festival this summer. This fabulous series of shows provides an opportunity to relive the cultural history in the Redwood Forest Theatre. This year we will feature La Catrina, a classical string quartet, the Junius Courtney Big Band, The Sun Kings, a fabulous Beatles cover band, and Shakespeare’s Taming of the Shrew, performed by the Sonoma County Repertory Theater. Tickets are on sale now and information is on the calendar of events page.