Wednesday, April 29, 2009

Legislation to protect state parks clears first hurdle

California Chronicle

April 29, 2009

SACRAMENTO— Senate Natural Resources Committee voted today to approve legislation by Senator Lois Wolk (D-Davis) to protect the beauty and integrity of California´s state parks by preventing their conversion for private or corporate use. "Increasing development throughout the state has put considerable pressure on California´s state park system," Wolk said. "State parks are looked at as the path of least resistance for development projects, which pose significant threats to these diverse natural, historic and recreational resources." Wolk´s Senate Bill 679 prohibits the use of state park lands for non-park purposes without legislative approval.

Even with legislative approval, the bill would not allow a project to move forward unless the use of the park land was compensated for with a parks´ designation for land with equal environmental and fair market value. The bill is being sponsored by the California State Parks Foundation, which conducted a survey in 2007 that identified 122 threats to 73 state parks. High-profile examples include proposals to run a toll road through the heart of San Onofre State Beach and build two mega-dairies approximately a mile from Colonel Allensworth State Historic Park, the site of California´s only historic community founded and governed by African Americans.

Among those testifying in support of the measure was Traci Verardo-Torres, Legislative & Policy Director for the California State Parks Foundation, the bill´s sponsors. "SB 679 builds on the Legislature´s existing responsibility to protect our state parks system, by ensuring that the legislature is given the right to review projects that would alter or modify that park for non-park purposes," Verardo-Torres said. "This measure helps ensure that our state parks system, which is an asset that provides this state with economic, recreation, and education value, is maintained in perpetuity." "We are privileged in California to have the largest state park system in the world, and the state´s voters have voted consistently to support improvements for these resources.

My intent in authoring this bill is to protect the taxpayer´s investment for the enjoyment of future generations of Californians with clear, commonsense legal protection," Wolk concluded. The bill, which will next be heard in the Senate Appropriations Committee, is also supported by Audubon California, California Council of Land Trusts, California Wilderness Coalition, Natural Resources Defense Council, Trust for Public Land, and the Surfrider Foundation.

Friday, April 24, 2009

Contact Your Senator to Protect State Parks

Right now there are two critical bills going before the State Senate and we need you to contact your Senator and tell them to support SB 372 and SB 679. These bills have been introduced to establish much-needed processes and policies that protect our parks--so that ill conceived proposals (like toll roads through parks) will be impossible in the future. See below for a sample letter you can use when contacting your Senator.

Next week, the Surfrider Foundation will be down at Trestles for the Nike Pro surf competition educating the public about our efforts to Save Trestles and to thank the community for all the support we have received over the years to stop this toll road.

Come down and say hi! click here for more info.

Thanks for your continued support!

For the Ocean,

Contact Your Senator

Copy and paste this website:

Enter your address and zip code to find your Senator. Then simply go to their website and click on the form that says "contact me" to send the email. You are welcome to use the sample email below.

Sample Letter:

Subject: Please support SB 372 and SB 679.

Dear Senator:

I am writing to urge your support for Senate Bill (SB) 372 (Kehoe) and SB 679 (Wolk). State parks were created to offer Californians recreational opportunities, protect natural resources, and showcase some of the most unique cultural and historic features of the Golden State. Voters repeatedly support improvements and additions to the state park system through approval of bonds and, in some cases, through gifts of land donations.

Unfortunately, however, state parks are increasingly looked at as the path of least resistance for placing infrastructure and other development projects. These proposals have significant impacts to sensitive natural, cultural and historic resources in the state park system. Instituting clear statutory protection to safeguard state parks is consistent with upholding the will of the California public and ensuring these resources remain part of the public trust. SB 372 establishes an appropriate process for protecting state parks.

It requires that alterations or modifications that are inconsistent with state parks be enacted only upon an act of the Legislature, preceded by a recommendation from the state Park and Recreation Commission. SB 679 will further protect California's state park system. The bill requires that lands specifically acquired for the purpose of a state park cannot be used for non-park purposes unless the Legislature takes an affirmative action to allow that non-park use and replacement lands of equivalent value are provided.

Together, these two bills create a thorough, transparent process where state-level decision makers have the final say in deciding whether to impact a state resource. As a strong supporter of our state parks and California's environment, I urge you to value the investments in our state park system and cast an AYE vote for SB 372 and SB 679.


Monday, April 6, 2009

Surfrider Foundation hits the state Capitol in full force!

We recently participated in Park Advocacy Day where we met with elected officials to advocate for the protection and enhancement of our State park system. The Save Trestles campaign was featured as a key issue; and Surfrider was pleased to showcase our work on this campaign in order to provide legislators with a tangible example of why protecting parks is so important. Keeping in line with our Park protection efforts, we were also an expert witness at the Senate Natural Resources and Water Committee where we testified in support of SB 4 (the smoking ban on State Parks and Beaches). The bill passed committee! Click here to learn more and take action.

What's Up with Toll Road Developers, you ask?

Well, we still aren't sure ourselves. Regardless of what they are doing, Surfrider is maintaining our outreach efforts and will continue to pressure the TCA to do the right thing and stay out of San Onofre State Beach. We are attending their Board of Directors meeting this week, so hopefully we will learn more. Stay tuned….

In the meantime, catch up on other issues outside of the Save Trestles campaign. We need folks in Southern California to take a survey about Marine Protected Areas. Go here to learn more about Surfrider's Marine Protected Areas efforts and share your thoughts. click here

If you like big public hearings (and we know you do since you probably attended one of the Save Trestles hearings over the years) then we have something you will love! US Secretary of the Interior, Ken Salazar, is holding public meetings to talk about the federal government's plans for new offshore drilling. These hearings will help determine what actions the Obama Administration will be taking this fall with regard to allowing new offshore oil and gas drilling in our most sensitive coastal waters, and for approval of renewable energy industry proposals off of our coast. We need people to attend the hearing in San Francisco on April 16, go here to learn more: click here

Thanks for your continuing support.

For the ocean, beaches and waves,