California State Park Crisis featured on KQED Forum

 In Philanthropy, Public Lands

With the California State Park system in crisis, lawmakers and advocates are focused on passing legislation that could help keep as many as 20 parks stay open. A total of 70 of California’s 278 state parks (25%) face permanent closure. On September 6, a bill to allow the California state parks system to enter into operating agreements with nonprofits completed its journey through the legislature and now awaits Governor Jerry Brown’s signature.

This morning on KQED’s Forum, Michael Krasny spoke to Jared Huffman, the California assemblyman (D-San Rafael) who authored Assembly Bill 42 to help save state parks from closure, and Elizabeth Goldstein, president of the California State Parks Foundation. Her foundation is one sponsor of AB 42. (KQED Audio archive: Non-Profits: State Parks’ Savior?).

With closures imminent, growing awareness has led to many philosophical and political questions by the public. Some can’t believe that the parks will close, and others fear privatization. At the same time, the situation has reached a level of “triage” said Assemblyman Huffman. Huffman said that he would also like to use the public funding model of the last 100 years, but under the circumstances:

“Would I prefer a nonprofit operated park as a opposed to a closed park? Absolutely.”

After the public voted down Proposition 21 to support the park system in last November’s elections, what are the alternatives to keep this public asset truly public? Elizabeth Goldstein is optimistic that “we will find a long term tool to sustain the park system.” She said it will be critical for us to “keep our voices high.” Her organization, the California State Parks Foundation, accepts donations to help keep parks open.

One caller to the show said that his corporation was wondering if the state park system has an “adopt a ranger” or “adopt a park” program and if it was possible to see park budgets. Elizabeth Goldstein enthusiastically jumped on the opportunity, offering her email address on the air. In response, Krasny said, “does this mean that we are moving toward privatization?” Goldstein pointed out that the park system has relied on private donations for decades (if not for its entire lifetime) with the big change now applying to how donations will be spent in the park system. In the past her foundation raised money to support education programs and capital projects, now dollars will fund operations and maintenance.

Governor Brown has until October 6 to sign Assembly Bill 42 into law. You can send a message to the governor to let him know your position on this bill.

70 California State Parks on the Closure List

San Francisco Bay Area Parks are in bold

  1. Anderson Marsh SHP
  2. Annadel SP
  3. Antelope Valley Indian Museum SHP
  4. Austin Creek SRA
  5. Bale Grist Mill SHP
  6. Benbow Lake SRA
  7. Benicia Capitol SHP
  8. Benicia SRA
  9. Bidwell Mansion SHP
  10. Bothe-Napa Valley SP
  11. Brannan Island SRA
  12. California State Mining and Mineral Museum Park Property
  13. Candlestick Point SRA
  14. Castle Crags SP
  15. Castle Rock SP
  16. China Camp SP
  17. Colusa-Sacramento River SRA
  18. Del Norte Coast Redwoods SP
  19. Fort Humboldt SHP
  20. Fort Tejon SHP
  21. Garrapata SP
  22. George J. Hatfield SRA
  23. Governor’s Mansion SHP
  24. Gray Whale Cove SB
  25. Greenwood SB
  26. Grizzly Creek Redwoods SP
  27. Hendy Woods SP
  28. Henry W. Coe SP
  29. Jack London SHP
  30. Jug Handle SNR
  31. Leland Stanford Mansion SHP
  32. Limekiln SP
  33. Manchester SP
  34. Picacho SRA
  35. Portola Redwoods SP
  36. Russian Gulch SP
  37. Salton Sea SRA
  38. Twin Lakes SB
  39. Los Encinos SHP
  40. Malakoff Diggins SHP
  41. McConnell SRA
  42. McGrath SB
  43. Mono Lake Tufa SR
  44. Morro Strand SB
  45. Moss Landing SB
  46. Olompali SHP
  47. Palomar Mountain SP
  48. Petaluma Adobe SHP
  49. Pio Pico SHP
  50. Plumas-Eureka SP
  51. Point Cabrillo Light Station Property SHP
  52. Providence Mountains SRA
  53. Railtown 1897 SHP
  54. Saddleback Butte SP
  55. Samuel P. Taylor SP
  56. San Pasqual Battlefield SHP
  57. Santa Cruz Mission SHP
  58. Santa Susana Pass SHP
  59. Shasta SHP
  60. South Yuba River SP
  61. Standish-Hickey SRA
  62. Sugarloaf Ridge SP
  63. Tomales Bay SP
  64. Tule Elk SNR
  65. Turlock Lake SRA
  66. Weaverville Joss House SHP
  67. Westport-Union Landing SB
  68. William B. Ide Adobe SHP
  69. Woodson Bridge SRA
  70. Zmudowski SB

This is the second article in a series on threats to California State Parks and the search for sustainable funding as the park system is forced to reinvent itself.

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