California’s beloved state park system is facing the worst threat in its history. Under the Governor’s just-released plan to close the state’s growing budget deficit, state general fund support for state parks would be cut in half beginning July 1; all remaining funding would be eliminated 12 months later, in the 2010-11 budget. Without this money, there will be no choice but to close the vast majority (220 out of 279) of our state parks. In the nine-county Bay Area alone, 44 parks are proposed for closure, including Mount Tamalpais, Tomales Bay, Mount Diablo, Angel Island, Henry W. Coe, and several Peninsula beaches. For a complete list and map of state park closures, visit the California State Parks Foundation website.
There IS something you can do: Say NO to closing state parks!
Please take 30 seconds to visit http://ga3.org/campaign/budget_may09 and send a message to your legislators and the governor before the budget hearing on Tuesday, June 2.
Here are some relevant facts about state parks funding:
The state parks allocation from the general fund accounts for less than 1/10 of 1 percent (less than 0.1 percent) of the entire state budget.
Californians affected by the current economic decline are turning more to area parks for vacations and recreation. Last year alone, over 80 million people visited state parks, and all indications are that visitorship this year will be even higher–if our parks remain open. To date in 2009, Californians and tourists have reserved more than 25,000 nights at state campgrounds compared to 20,700 in 2008.
State park closures will not only produce significant reductions in state revenue through loss of day use, campground, and other park fees, but will also significantly reduce income to communities surrounding the parks. Studies have shown that for every dollar of park funding, $2.35 is returned to the state’s general fund through taxes generated by economic activities in the surrounding communities. That means eliminating all funding for state parks could actually cost the state over $350 million in lost revenue.
In 2008, an outpouring of public support helped turn back Governor Schwarzenegger’s proposal to close 48 state parks. Our state leaders need to hear from Californians again now to understand that we love and value our state parks and want to keep them open.