Friday, May 13, 2011

We're Losing Our Best State Parks





If melodrama is ever appropriate, it's appropriate now. Jerry Brown has proposed a list of state parks to close, which is being discussed as a done-deal. Many of the state's gems are on it. This seems to have become an annual occurrence and I wonder how much longer it can last without actually happening. In the meantime, WRITE THE GOVERNOR AND YOUR SENATOR AND REPRESENTATIVE IF YOU CARE AT ALL. I've put a template at the end of this post. The parks themselves have a website where you can learn more here.

I can't describe how sad this makes me. California is the most beautiful spot on this planet, and we're not taking our responsibility to take care of it for our kids seriously. For many of us, Each of these parks is a reason to live in California. Each of these parks that closes is one less reason to want to live here. If you run across this post please contribute your own list.

You can read the full list at the Union-Tribune or Chronicle articles, but here are the ones that just break my heart. In total there are 70. Maybe it's time to visit the state parks website and plan your summer vacation. Quickly.

San Diego:
- Palomar
- San Pasqual

Bay Area:
- Castle Rock
- Henry W. Coe SP
- Olompali
- Petaluma Adobe
- Portola Redwoods
- Samuel P. Taylor (This is an absolute disaster. How could this happen?!?)
- Tomales Bay

Rural Sonoma and points further north:
- Annadel
- Castle Crags
- Del Norte Coast Redwoods SP (OLD GROWTH REDWOODS! Maybe the Feds could take it over since it's adjacent to national parks.)
- Hendy Woods SP
- Sugarloaf Ridge

It's pretty annoying that the people who write these articles never say what "closed" means. (Come on, Mike Lee at the Union-Tribune and Adam Weintraub at AP!) (UPDATE: Mike Lee at the Union-Tribune was good enough to write me back and said this: "Great question...i'll include that in next version... short answer: putting locks on the gates and doing their best to keep people out... will have irregular patrols. Thanks for the query.")

Does it mean the land just won't be manned or maintained, but the state will maintain possession of the land, and members of the public enter at their own risk? (Not great, but the best outcome if they're ("closed".)

Or does it mean that five years from now the redwoods will be gone and there will be condos there?

In one case in the last couple years (Fort Ross) the state convinced Russia to shoulder some of the burden of keeping it open. At the time Schwarzenegger billed this as a positive development, but I don't know about you; having to beg for money from Russia to keep a park operating doesn't seem like it should be a point of pride.

Whatever happens, these lands must be preserved as open space.

Today, for the first time, I considered raising my future children somewhere besides California.

Here's the one I'm sending. Cut and paste and modify if it helps you. I have already dropped this in the mail to my senator and assembly member. Look up your state legislator here).


Dear []:

I am deeply saddened by Governor Brown's proposal to close 70 state parks. This is an abject disaster.

One of the reasons I chose to move to California to live and work and raise a family, despite the high cost of living and challenged educational infrastructure, is the state's amazing park system. Each park that closes tips that equation in the wrong direction, for me and many, many other voters and taxpayers. For the first time today I imagined taking my California-funded medical degree, and raising my family outside the state. There is a point beyond which living in California no longer represents a good deal for the taxpayer, and we're approaching it.

Regardless of the eventual solution for these lands - that is, whether they remain state parks, or are administered by another entity or in another way - they absolutely must be protected from development, preferably in a way that keeps them open to the public. Even if this means making them state-owned use-at-your-own-risk zones, that's certainly better than redwoods being cut down to build condos. Otherwise California will become New Jersey, and the flow of high-earning in-migrants from elsewhere in the country will stop. It bears mentioning that growth has already slowed substantially in the past decade.

Please do the right thing and do not support this aspect of the proposed budget. Cutting these parks won't put California in the black. It will also be noticed by the many voters in your district who are organized and who value open space and parks.




Grego said...

The closures are
a fine example of bullshit political manoeuvring; they will save, in
total, $11 million per year, out of a total general fund allotment
(for 2011-2012) of 84 billion, a ratio of 0.00013. Fiscally nothing,
but of high and continuing publicity value in the neverending battles
for momentary political supremacy.

Michael Caton said...

Amazing. How many administrator pensions would we have to cut to save that same amount? Or benefits to lawmakers? Not very many.