Tuesday, May 17, 2011
CA Parks And You Part 2
A few months ago, I pontificated on the threat to close California's parks and about the parks place in humanity.
Parks are an important part of our urban-fied lives and of ALL the things that should have funding cut, California parks should not be on top of that list (especially with the massive cuts made over the last few years). The parks have been doing more with less for years and now the cuts are threatening to cut out 25% of the parks.
For a full list of closures, check out CSPF's amazingly interactive map. The disparity between the amount of parks closed in the North vs. the South is no contest. The North and Central Coast got hit hard while SoCal skated realtively clealy.
Near LA, McGrath State Park, Santa Susana Pass, Los Encinos and Pio Pico are on the block. Compare this to the unbelievably lengthy list good buddy Backcountry Bliss compiled for the North. There is a smattering of other parks in the OC and further south in SD County but overall our buddies in NorCal are bearing the brunt.
Obviously this not equitable, but the real determining factor was money and visitors. An amazing stat emerged from the California Parks department that despite closing 25% of the parks, those closed only represented 8% of total park attendance and 6% of existing revenues will not be collected with the closures. Can the park system really survive when 25% of its resources are going to such "underperforming" parks? If park funding is a closed system and not dependent on other state revenue streams, probably not.
What is clear that this time around, parks will be closed (despite how expensive it will be if they are reopened). The parks that survive will have to look towards a public/private partnership in order to take the parks off the public chopping block whenever there are budget issues that arise. No one wants to "privatize" the parks like they are planning to do in Arizona but if non-profits want to help fill in the funding and volunteer gap that has been arising over the years then perhaps this crisis is a good thing. If a hybrid model works better and the outdoor community is better off for it then this might be something good that comes out of a bad situation.
To my friends in the North, hang in there, there are still plenty of trails and plenty of fight in this State to preserve what is here!
Posted by Peter Flanigan at 8:07 AM