I’ve written over a dozen posts over the last year about how the California state budget cuts have hurt California State Parks hiking trails and access to the parks for camping, swimming, and other recreation.
I’ve also trumpeted the good work of theCalifornia State Parks Foundation in the effort to keep our parks open and affordable. The CSPF just issued the following press release about uncertainties for California State Parks in the governor’s proposed budget:
SAN FRANCISCO, CA – In today’s May Revise announcement, Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger sent the Legislature a budget with considerable uncertainty for State Parks. The Governor’s budget revisions comes on the heels of the Governor removing his support for the Tranquillon Ridge offshore oil drilling project, which he linked to state parks funding in his January budget. The Governor reiterated an earlier commitment to replace Tranquillon Ridge revenues with General Fund dollars.
“We hope that the Fiscal Year 2009-2010 state budget was the funding nadir of California’s state park system,” said Elizabeth Goldstein, CSPF President. “The first question is what the Legislature will do with the recommendations from the Governor. We must remember this is only another step in a long and arduous budgetary process.”
Even the prospect of restoration to FY 2008-2009 levels of funding are a far cry from the resources necessary to adequately protect our precious state parks. “California’s state parks now rank among the most endangered sites in the country,” said Goldstein. “Budget cuts forced nearly 150 of the state’s 278 state parks to partially close or reduce services this last year.”
California’s world-renowned state parks have been underfunded for decades. While the state’s population, park acreage and park visitation have soared since the 1970s, state park funding and staffing levels have barely increased. And, since 2008, the state park system has been thrown into ever increasing budgetary turmoil.
For that reason, CSPF has worked hard to find a long-term sustainable funding tool for state parks. CSPF is a lead supporter of the California State Parks and Wildlife Conservation Trust Fund Act of 2010, which is slated to appear on the November 2010 ballot. This initiative will provide adequate funding for state parks in perpetuity, removing the threat of park closures once and for all. By establishing a new, dedicated funding source, the measure directs new revenues from an $18 vehicle surcharge to replace current General Fund support for the state park system, freeing up $140 million annually for other state budget purposes. In return for Californians’ investment in their world-renowned state park system, the Act provides free day-use access to state parks for Californians. For more information visit www.yesforstateparks.com.
The California Travel and Tourism Commission has recently predicted the number of tourists visiting the state will rise by an average of three percent through 2011, and all told these tourists will spend about $92 billion on food, lodging, recreation and other expenses. Many of these tourists visit state parks.
Studies have shown that visitors to California’s state parks spend more than $4 billion annually. In Tuolumne County alone, recent analysis illustrates that visitors drawn to that county’s state parks and other attractions spend approximately $164 million and tax revenues generated from visitors reaches $8.5 million per year.
As the Governor’s budget proposal moves forward, CSPF will keep the public informed about its status, and continue to lead the fight to keep all state parks open and adequately funded.
With over 115,000 members, the California State Parks Foundation (CSPF) is the only statewide independent nonprofit 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 278 state parks—the largest state park system in the United States. For more information about California’s state parks, visit www.calparks.org.
If the issue of access to California State Parks and the ability to hike park trails is important to you, then please express your support to your state legislators and the governor, and also support the California State Parks Foundation.
What state parks do you hike in the most? What is your opinion about what should be done to help the state parks?