There’s a good article from the San Francisco Chronicle that discusses the grim future for California state parks and their hiking trails in the wake of the defeat of Proposition 21:
State officials vowed Wednesday to do everything they can to prevent California’s chronically underfunded state parks from turning into litter-filled wastelands full of stray dogs, transients, bonfires, weaponry and pot.
That sorry state of affairs could still be in the future, though, after the rejection of a ballot measure that would have added $18 to the amount Californians pay to license their vehicles.
And here’s a press release from the California State Parks Foundation, one of the sponsors of Proposition 21:
SAN FRANCISCO – The California State Parks Foundation (CSPF) extends its gratitude to park supporters across the state for putting Prop 21 on the November ballot, and the millions of California voters who supported the measure. While it is deeply disappointed that the initiative did not pass this year, CSPF cannot overlook the incredible, groundbreaking effort that put this measure before voters.
“We are saddened that Prop 21 did not pass,” said Elizabeth Goldstein, president of CSPF. “But we recognize that it was a challenging, noisy election that faced voters this year. We know that Californians do want to see a long-term solution for their state parks. The electorate’s reaction to this negative and cluttered election should not be taken as a referendum on the importance of state parks or the conservation and environmental needs of our state.”
The damage that has been done to state parks through decades of budget neglect will continue and take years to fix. As it is, the state budget that was put in place in October, a whopping 100 days late, is expected to continue the partial closures of 60 state parks and deep service reductions at another 90 parks.
“Our state parks are still at enormous risk from declining budgets,” said Goldstein. “We will not be giving up on finding long-term, reliable funding to protect and preserve these precious resources. CSPF will continue to fight in order to preserve our natural and cultural history for generations to come.”
In addition to draconian budget challenges, state parks continue to be threatened with proposals that are inconsistent with the mission of California’s state parks. CSPF, along with its partners, will keep fighting against these proposals that continue to have significant impacts on sensitive natural and cultural resources in the state park system.
CSPF expects to work with Governor Jerry Brown’s new administration in Sacramento to ensure that the devastating proposals of the previous administration—exemplified by park closures and service reductions—are not repeated. Clearly, millions of Californians want to see a future for their parks that embodies excellence. CSPF will continue its fight to keep parks open and accessible and to enhance the state parks experience for CSPF members and all Californians.
What future do you predict for California’s state parks? What are good solutions to the crisis?