I’ve long hiked the trails of California’s state parks, and I’ve been a strong advocate of keeping state parks open and accessible to hikers, picnickers, swimmers, boaters, and nature lovers.
I’m also a member of the California State Parks Foundation, which has been fighting to get funds for our parks. The CSPF has just sponsored Senate Bill 580 (SB 580) and will work to get it passed through the state legislature and on Governor Brown’s desk for signing. Here’s the press release:
California State Parks Foundation teams up with key Legislators to push state parks protection legislation
Senate Bill 580 introduced to enact legal safeguards for all state parks
SACRAMENTO, Calif. — To safeguard the long-term future of the state parks system, the California State Parks Foundation (CSPF) has joined state Sens. Lois Wolk (D-Davis) and Christine Kehoe (D-San Diego) as the official organizational sponsor of Senate Bill (SB) 580. Introduced Thursday, SB 580 enacts a strong, statewide policy that protects state park resources.
“The more than 100-year commitment that Californians have made in their state park system must be protected,” said Traci Verardo-Torres, CSPF vice president of government affairs. “SB 580 ensures that our parks have a high bar for their protection, period. If a situation arises that pits state parks against another competing public interest, there should be no net loss of park resources for the California public. These are places that have been paid for, improved, and managed by taxpayer funds, bond dollars, camping and entrance fees and more – and these places belong to every resident of this state.”
SB 580 is a reintroduction of Senate Bill 679 (Wolk) from the 2009-10 legislative session. In late 2009, SB 679 was passed with bipartisan support and successfully advanced out of the Legislature, but was vetoed by former Gov. Schwarzenegger. Specifically, the bill says that state park lands cannot be used for non-park purposes unless there is no practical alternative to using those lands and replacement lands are provided, or a combination of replacement lands and monetary compensation is provided, to make the investment in state parks whole.
“California’s state parks are part of our heritage,” said Sen. Lois Wolk. “We have a responsibility to protect these diverse natural, historic, and recreational resources, especially now as our parks are looked at as the path of least resistance for controversial development projects. We owe it to future generations and to this state’s taxpayers, who have made a considerable investment in our parks, to ensure that these remarkable places are not lost.”
“Too often, our parks become targets for roads and other development,” said Sen. Christine Kehoe. “Local governments, private developers and others have often considered state parks ‘fair game’ when proposing major infrastructure projects. SB 580 levels the playing field for our state parks and sets out clear ‘rules of the game’ for protecting our parks. It’s a measure of statewide protection that is long overdue. Our state parks are everybody’s back yard!”
CSPF is pleased to work with Wolk and Kehoe, the joint legislative authors of SB 580. Wolk and Kehoe both carried legislation in 2009 to enact protections for state parks and both have been recipients of CSPF’s Legacy Awards for achievements in working to advance policy and fiscal issues affecting state parks. Kehoe received CSPF’s 2008 Legacy Award, and Wolk was a 2009 recipient.
Introducing SB 580 is one of the first ways that CSPF is working to implement some of the recommendations in its new report, AVision for Excellence for California’s State Parks. CSPF partnered with Save the Redwoods League to issue the report and gather data from the public about a vision for the future of the state park system. Sponsoring SB 580 is consistent with the second strategic action recommendation, “Defend Park Lands and Resources,” (page 25 of the report).
About the California State Parks Foundation
With 120,000 members, the California State Parks Foundation (CSPF) is the only state-wide independent nonprofit organization dedicated to protecting, enhancing, and advocating for California’s magnificent state parks. Since 1969, CSPF has raised more than $173 million to benefit state parks. CSPF is committed to improving the quality of life for all Californians by expanding access to 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.