Wednesday, December 7, 2011

Hope Emerges for Portola and Castle Rock

Old growth redwood at Portola State Park
It was only a few short weeks ago that I was having a really fine time hiking trails in the area of Castle Rock State Park, and I couldn’t help thinking about all the fine natural beauty we in this area are free to enjoy virtually right at our doorstep in the Santa Cruz Mountains. As I kept walking and brainstorming to myself, I began to consider all the great connectivity of trails that facilitate our recreation and enjoyment of all this blessing and natural heritage, and I couldn’t help thinking about what an egregious waste it would be to actually lock it all up because all the state’s money had been squandered. Nor could I help thinking about what a huge loss it would be to the hiking community for the looming park closures to destroy all that after so many had worked so hard to establish it. It just doesn’t seem right considering that the state only provided matching funds to purchase most of these tracts of land in the first place. The plan was for them to be deeded over to the state primarily because the state has the authority to protect them. Most of the work it takes to maintain them is ably performed by hardy groups of volunteers. In my view they belong to the taxpaying public for their respectful, lawful, enjoyment, as well as for the value they bring to the public in terms of quality of life issues. That’s why I was very encouraged today by the announcement of a new foundation being formed to campaign for keeping Portola and Castle Rock state parks open well into the future.

In September we learned about the successful passage of AB42, which is the bill that allows non-profit groups to help operate state parks that might otherwise be closed due to severe budget cutbacks. Henry Coe State Park which was on the closure list for years, got a big boost with the announcement of The Coe Park Preservation Fund, which actually already existed, which quickly entered into an agreement with the California Department of Parks that will keep that park open through at least 2015. I remember thinking what a great thing that would be if a similar foundation could be similarly brought to bear to protect both Castle Rock and Portola state parks. This press release dated yesterday 12/6/11 announced exactly that. The Portola and Castle Rock Foundation, which  has been the official cooperating association since 1991, with cooperation from Sempervirens Fund, and Adventure Out have taken that goal as their mission. Welcome news, but these parks are not safe yet. (I had originally said not “out of the woods” yet, but that would be ludicrous). The foundation will need to raise about $500,000 in order to ensure that the gates can stay open to the public beyond July of 2012. Tax deductable contributions can be made on line at their website. The Portola and Castle Rock Foundation is a 501(c) 3 non-profit. Hopefully this trend can inspire similar foundations to protect other parks on the closure list as well.

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