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Can California’s Parks Be Saved?

Can California’s Parks Be Saved?

As Care2′s Amelia Thomson-DeVeaux wrote here yesterday, officials plan to close 70 state parks across California, eliminating 220 jobs and closing redwood forests, historic sites and coastal woodlands. 

This move will save California $33 million, as part of a larger plan to close a deficit of roughly $15 billion.  All together, the parks that are scheduled to be closed attract 5.6 million visitors a year.

Californians Angry And Confused

A lot of us in California are both angry and confused. Save $33 million, compared to a budget shortfall of roughly $15 billion? There must be better ways.

From The Los Angeles Times:

“California has had a reputation of having some of the most incredible parks and beaches,” said John Severini, president of the California Travel Industry Assn., a trade group. “It’s one of the very elements that attract a lot of people to our state.”

California’s vast outdoor assets are at the center of its $95-billion tourism industry, the state’s fifth-largest job creator. Those resources produce more than just hotel receipts and restaurant tabs. They generate revenue from surfing schools, sporting goods stores, ski resorts, whale watching tours, white-water rafting outfitters and golf courses.

California’s economy is rooted in aerospace, entertainment, technology, construction and international trade. But it thrives on bright sunshine, big waves, fresh powder and biting trout.

“Outdoor recreation opportunities are one part of the attraction of living and working in California, so they support a positive climate for investment and talent,” said Stephen Levy, director of the Center for Continuing Study of the California Economy.

Nearly 40% of all domestic visitors to the state last year took part in at least one type of outdoor activity, according to statistics released this month by the California Travel and Tourism Commission. That adds up to 75.6 million visits to the state and $44 billion in direct spending in 2010, according to the commission.

So Why Close Our Treasured Parks?

At a time when children are spending over 8 and a half hours a day on average staring at electronic screens and one in three children is overweight or obese, we should absolutely not be limiting access to state parks.

Physical and mental health are both enhanced by outdoor activity, and tourists flock to California specifically for its natural beauty.

This is shortsighted idiocy.

How To Save The Parks

There is a solution being considered, however. Two proposals are under consideration in Sacramento. Senate Bill 356 would require the state to give counties and cities a chance to take over operations of closed state parks in their areas.  SB 386 would require the state to post a notice if it plans to close a park and list contact information so that anyone interested in taking over its operations could contact the government and get a response.

More Private Sector Involvement?

The idea of private sector involvement in California parks operation is not new. Such arrangements already exist in many parks, with the private sector providing lodging, retail, and food services in parks across the state, as indeed it does in other states.

When I moved here from the U.K. almost thirty years ago, it was the beauty and majesty of California’s parks that drew me, and many of my friends, to stay.

Jerry Brown’s government has let us down and already has allowed conditions in many California parks to deteriorate. We must do all we can to save them.

Take Action!

Please take action by clicking here to tell Governor Brown not to close these parks.

 

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Photo credit: ingridtaylar via Creative Commons

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57 comments

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7:47PM PDT on May 28, 2011

This hysteria over the budget is just another way for big corporations to privatize everything that those in the past had the foresight to preserve for all Americans!
Not content with the obscene profits of the past 10 years (while everyone else struggles), big business is gobbling up everything for bigger and bigger profits.
In addition to taking this important asset from taxpayers, there is also the loss of jobs. This in turn decreases people who were taxpayers and consumers. It is senseless.

1:41PM PDT on May 19, 2011

This goes along with selling the Fair grounds, These properties that have been maintained by former Californian taxes and generations should not be an asset that can be sold off to the highest bidder.
We can let them get seedy as we did during the Viet Nam war days or look into the maintenance by taxation. I know taxes are a dirty, political word right now , but wouldn't you rather pay a few dollars and keep what we have already paid for ?

9:21AM PDT on May 19, 2011

All parks must be saved

8:13AM PDT on May 19, 2011

We can save enough money to cover the debt here in California if we cut back on the government pay and benefits! Selfish B******s

12:59PM PDT on May 18, 2011

state parks are the best!

5:10AM PDT on May 18, 2011

The state parks should be looked after and cared for for future generations to enjoy not sold off for $ its about looking after what nature provided for you. Remember once its gone you cant have it back!!!

3:09AM PDT on May 18, 2011

Thanks for your super comment! Hope the gouvernement wakes up.

2:59AM PDT on May 18, 2011

thanks for the information.

12:21AM PDT on May 18, 2011

The loss of tourist dollars will be far more devastating to our state economy than the cost of keeping these parks open will accomplish. This is NOT the solution to the budget crisis, it will cause many more people to lose their jobs and small businesses, making things even worse.

11:16PM PDT on May 17, 2011

What a shortsighted solution! Those who think that closing our parks is going to remediate the state’s financial problems cannot see beyond their nose. No wonder we are in the mess we are. Our state is being run by morons.

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