You Californians may remember last year there was a big push to reduce the State’s looming budget deficit by imposing an across the board cut in all State departmental budgets. When this push began, the State Parks Department had formulated a proposal for reducing their operating costs by closing 48 State parks, and eliminating life guards from 16 State beaches, and submitted it to the Governor. This plan was their best determined solution intended to keep the same funding in place for the remaining parks.
This was not the end of the story however. You may also remember that there was a great public outcry over this proposal which spawned a rallying of forces. It generated a groundswell of opposition from various naturalist and outdoor advocate groups, and spurred a letter writing campaign that populated electronic mail boxes in Sacramento. It also stimulated a lot of fresh thinking about exactly what the real importance and true value of our parks and wild spaces really consist of. Also about how the closure of parks would impact State and local revenues apart from the operating costs alone. Alternative solutions to closure were postulated and counter proposed, and after months of intense discussion, debate, and negotiation, eventually the State legislature relented on the closure plan. Click here to read the California State Parks Foundation 2008 talking points.
Most people don’t realize that it is possible to not only have better ideas than the government’s rather short sighted thinking, but also a voice through which to express those thoughts and ideas. In March of 2009 the California State Parks Foundation will sponsor their 7th annual Park Advocacy Day. This is a fantastic opportunity for anyone who believes they have some good positive input to join with others participating in meetings with actual policymakers in Sacramento to discuss important issues related to parks. You only need to register. Even if you cannot go, or don’t want to attend, you can still check out their website for ideas on how you can advocate for parks yourself, and to stay informed.