California Budget Cut to Close State Parks

California Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger recently signed a revised fiscal year 2009-2010 state budget that contained a $14.2 million cut to state park funds. More than 100 state parks could be closed as a result of the reduced funding. Below is a statement from California State Parks Foundation (CSPF) President Elizabeth Goldstein:

“This is a dark day in the history of California’s state park system. At a time when Californians are most in need of their low cost, accessible state parks, the gates are being slammed in their faces. At a time when local businesses, particularly in rural communities, most rely on tourism and park visitation for their own economic stimulus, the doors are being shut to them. In the context of an $85 billion General Fund budget, the $14.2 million in “savings” that would come from closing more than 100 state parks is truly a drop in the bucket. But it’s a small drop that will have a ripple effect, then a tsunami, for park visitors and local economies.

Closing more than one-third of the state park system cannot be done without real consequences to Californians. Although CSPF and other park partners are already trying to identify ways to keep some parks open, it will simply not be possible for the state to walk away from 100 parks and expect others to fully substitute for its public responsibility. California’s state parks have been teetering on the brink of a funding cliff for several decades, this action now pushes them over the edge. California cannot afford for its state parks to be a political football every year. Our state parks desperately need a dedicated funding source to protect them from these now-annual budget actions.”

Sign the online petition to help stop the impending closure of more than 100 of California’s 279 state parks at the CSPF website.

IMBA is urging its affiliated clubs and mountain bike patrols to contact the state parks they use in their areas and discuss with them ways that the mountain bike community can help relieve the financial stresses on individual parks.

“Mountain bikers have partnered with California parks on literally hundreds of projects over the years, providing free labor and a heartfelt desire to help protect and preserve these public resources,” says Tom Ward, IMBA’s policy advisor in California. “The specific services our volunteers provide will be unique to each park. We hope to create action plans with a number of parks in the next several weeks,” says Ward, who himself served as a director of recreation during a 20-year career with California State Parks. He notes that the final list of which parks stay open may be influenced by the number of local groups that come forward to help during the financial crisis.

Ward is available to assist clubs in making agreements with their local state parks:
Tom Ward
IMBA California Policy Advisor
916.441.6035
[email protected]