Here we go again!
Stewards is dismayed to have to pass on some depressing news in regards to the State Park budget as we get ready to enjoy the Memorial Day weekend.
Stewards will be shifting gears once again and take up the fight to advocate for our beloved State Parks. After last year, you know that we will not rest until we can be assured that our parks will continue to be open and available to all of us who treasure them for solace, recreation and their incredible beauty.
The following is a press release that was sent out today by our partner, the California State Parks Foundation. As stated in the release you can keep posted on the latest news through the Save State Parks website www.savestateparks.org. I will also be updating our own website with information as it is released at on the Advocacy page of our website. The next update will be late in the day on May 28th.
California State Parks Foundation Rejects Proposal to Remove Core Funding for State Parks
Governor’s proposal would eliminate up to $150 million of State Parks’ public-sector funding
SACRAMENTO, CA – The California State Parks Foundation (CSPF) strongly rejects the Governor’s proposal to eliminate core public funding for California’s 279 state parks as announced by the Department of Finance in the Budget Conference Committee yesterday. (No details were provided, but are anticipated to be released on May 28.) This ill-conceived idea will remove the majority of funding for state parks operations and will effectively close the door to recreational opportunities for state residents and visitors alike.
“Here we go again. This proposal is ten times larger than the Governor’s attempt last year to cut costs by closing 48 state parks and reducing lifeguard staffing on 16 state beaches—an idea that was soundly rejected by tens of thousands of Californians across the state,” said Elizabeth Goldstein, CSPF President. “The Governor’s harsh proposal to take General Fund support away from California’s state parks—even if done over time—will have a profound and devastating impact on parks and on all Californians.”
The state park system receives an annual General Fund allocation of approximately $150 million, less than 1/10 of one percent of the entire state budget and less than .62 percent of the estimated $24.3 billion budget deficit.
“Cutting General Fund support for state parks is the very definition of penny-wise and pound foolish,” stated Goldstein. “By cutting funding at the levels suggested, it is inevitable that state parks will need to be closed. Closing parks not only loses the potential to earn revenues that support that park, but it also causes revenue losses to the local economies in communities that surround state parks. This is not the time to be causing further economic turmoil in communities around the state.”
State parks represent a commitment of more than 150 years to protecting the natural and cultural history of the state and to provide affordable recreation and respite to the citizens of California. The Governor’s proposal will severely impact Californians, particularly in these tough economic times when our state parks have experienced a record number of visitors. Last year alone, the California Department of Parks and Recreation tallied some 80 million visits to state parks. All indications point to even higher numbers this year.
”There are creative alternatives to such draconian measures,” stated Goldstein. “Just last spring, CSPF proposed the California State Park Access Pass, a program that would provide adequate funds to support the state park system, while providing free day-use access to California state parks.” The State Parks Access Pass was introduced in the Legislature but was not acted on.
As details emerge from the Governor’s proposal, CSPF will keep the public informed and continue to lead the fight against the Governor’s budget proposal through our SOS campaign and by working with partners and activists throughout the state.
The Save Our State Parks (SOS) Campaign is a statewide, grassroots campaign to keep California’s magnificent state parks open. In partnership with organizations, businesses, local governments, and individuals around the state, the California State Parks Foundation is leading SOS Campaign activities and generating awareness and action about these unacceptable budget proposals. For more information visit www.savestateparks.org/
With our 100,000 members, the California State Parks Foundation (CSPF) is the only statewide independent nonprofit membership organization dedicated to protecting, enhancing and advocating for California’s magnificent state parks. CSPF is committed to improving the quality of life for all Californians by expanding access to the natural beauty, rich culture and history, and recreational and educational opportunities offered by California’s 279 state parks—the largest state park system in the United States. For more information about California’s state parks, visit www.calparks.org.