Wednesday, September 30, 2009

Park Protection News: Bills Awaiting Governor's Signature and the State of State Parks

The past few weeks have been interesting for California State Parks. Two very important bills (that Surfrider actively supported during the legislative season) passed out of the Assembly and Senate and are now sitting on the Governor's desk waiting for his signature. He has until Oct 11 to sign. SB 679 (Wolk) protects Parks by setting a requirement that parklands used for “non-park purposes” must be replaced by other park lands that are of equal environmental, recreational, and fair market value.

SB 372 (Kehoe) simply requires the Legislature to make a final decision about allowing any non-park use in a state park system (i.e. the Legislature finally has a say in horrible projects like a toll road through a state park). Please take a minute and urge the Governor to sign the bills:

Finally, as you may have heard last week, the Governor released a statement saying the State would avoid permanently closing several state parks. In the statement, he also proposed major changes to the state park system in order to “close some of the budget gap”. While it’s fantastic news parks will not be permanently closed, some parks will be partially or seasonally closed. He also proposed major reductions in seasonal staff, reductions in hours of operation at most state parks, and reduced maintenance.

This all means having fewer lifeguards on state beaches, poorly maintained facilities (i.e. restrooms, kiosks, etc), that will inevitably impact the health and safety of our parks. Our friends at the California State Parks Foundation say it best:

“We all want to see our state parks open, and it’s been the efforts of advocates that have kept the Governor’s feet to the fire since late May. But California State Parks Foundation isn’t fully celebrating this news yet. While the Governor has found a clever way to get political cover on this issue, it’s not clear that this plan won’t actually leave Californians with just as limited access to their state parks as if they had been fully closed”.

Review their statement for more news on park closures.

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