SACRAMENTO, Calif. - Close to 25 percent of the California state parks system, roughly 70 state parks near closure in order to meet the $22 million General Fund budget cuts required by Gov. Brown and the Legislature. When the taxpayers voted last year to NOT include new car license taxes to fund the parks, a nonprofit group continued to pursue options to keep them fully funded to avoid closures. The California State Parks hold more than 1 million artifacts and rare items, operate over 270 parks such as Calaveras Big Trees State Park (shown in photo,) employ thousands of people and provide entertainment to Californians and tourists.
"We are not going to stand by as our state parks system is closed and dismantled," said Elizabeth Goldstein, president of California State Parks Fund.
California State Parks Fund is sponsoring AB 42 with Assemblymember Jared Huffman (D-Marin) to allow nonprofit organizations to help take a direct role in helping prevent park closures. The bill allows DPR to enter into operating agreements for the improvement, restoration, care, maintenance, administration, or operation of a unit or units of the state park system with qualified nonprofit organizations.
AB 42 passed out of the Assembly Water, Parks and Wildlife Committee on March 22 with scores of park advocates present in the audience to support the bill on CSPF's Ninth Annual Park Advocacy Day. The bill also passed the Assembly Appropriations Committee on May 11, and now will be taken up on the Assembly Floor on Thursday.
The parks on the closure list include:
* Almost 45 percent of entire statewide system of State Historic Parks
* 11 parks with coastal access
* 9 parks showcase Native American history and other archeological assets
* 8 parks have natural ecosystems that include unique California redwoods
* The North Coast Counties (Marin, Sonoma, Mendocino, and Humboldt and Del Norte) have 22 parks on the closure list, which is 31 percent of the closures
* The second largest state park in the California, Henry Coe, is on the closure list
If the bill is fully approved, sponsors will be actively sought to help support the parks system. If you want to be involved, read about it on calparks.org.