How to help re-open closed state parks
With voter rejection of Proposition 21 (State Parks Funding Initiative) and the announced closure of 70 state parks (25 percent of the entire state park system), it is now obvious to everyone that we don't get what we don't pay for. As unfortunate and painful as this situation is, there are ways that Californians can hasten the day when all, or at least some, of the closed parks will be able to re-open.
Most importantly, people who use the facilities of state parks need to pay for the experience. Funding from the state's General Fund now only covers less than half of the expenses needed to operate our state parks. To cope with budget cuts initiated last year, many state parks are now partially closed because of staffing cuts and maintenance of trails and buildings is being deferred. A majority of state park funding now needs to come from entry/camping fees, boat launch fees, income from park concessionaires, revenue from annual park passes and donations.
It is a sad fact that many people who make frequent use of our state parks still try to avoid paying the entry fees by parking their car outside of the park gate and then walking in without paying, or bypassing the "iron ranger" without depositing the use fee in the envelope. When people try to use park resources for free, they are depriving the system of revenue needed to maintain park infrastructure and park safety.
We can take the following actions.
Buy an Annual Vehicle Day Use Pass on-line at www.parks.ca.gov. The cost is $125 a year for the statewide Annual Vehicle Day Use Pass, or $90 a year for the Golden Poppy Day Use Pass (valid in 97 parks).
If you are an infrequent user of state parks, pay the day use fee every time you visit.
Become a member of the various nonprofit organizations that support state parks. Two local park associations are: Sonoma/Petaluma State Historic Parks Association (www.sonomaparks.org) which supports the Sonoma State Historic Park and the Petaluma Adobe State Historic Park. And the Valley of the Moon Natural History Association (www.jacklondonpark.com), which supports the Jack London, Sugarloaf Ridge and Annadel state parks.
Become a member of the California State Parks Foundation (www.calparks.org), which is the main lobbying roup for state parks in Sacramento.
Become a volunteer or docent with your local state park or with local open-space organizations such as LandPaths in Santa Rosa (www.landparths.org).