Wednesday, June 1, 2011

Killing California's State Parks

Mendocino Cliffside

With more than 200 parks in the state, California has one of the richest and most diverse park system in the country. Name an ecosystem and you'll find it amongst our park system.

Now the state wants to close 75 parks. Shut them down. All in the hopes that somehow 22 million dollars will magically assist in the 15,000,000,000 deficit the state has. Give me a break.

I want to keep paying for my state parks. They are valuable gems of our state's heritage and natural beauty. They should be maintained and loved and treasured, not shuttered.

One of the parks is in Napa, the Bothe-Napa Valley. I can remember getting lost in the park, wandering around for hours, knowing I'd eventually find where I parked! But what I remember most is not the getting lost part, but the pure enjoyment I found in watching birds flit about, creeping upon deer grazing in verdant meadows, and the flowers! Oh, so many, so beautiful and vibrant. It was a place full of life and wonder.

Or the South Yuba of Nevada County, the only park in the state that has a wheelchair accessible trail. The wildflowers in this park during April are absolutely stunning, the variety is amazing. The river provides a cool respite on hot days after a long, sweaty hike. Dogs are welcome as well.

And then there's Jack London's home, the place where he wrote and lived and loved. I know most of you have read Call of the Wild and White Fang. This too will be lost.

What makes this so sad is that once these parks are closed, I feel as if most people just won't care. They won't notice it. I hope that is untrue. I hope more that the parks won't be shuttered, closed off to public eyes and canine paws. We appreciate nature so much more when we have "civilized" ways of enjoying it! Most of us aren't going to go backpacking in the backwoods, but we can still find isolation and joy and freedom in a well-loved and semi-maintained park. The nice thing about getting lost at Bothe-Napa was knowing I would soon be found, yo.

If you don't live in California, please take a moment to show your solidarity and support of preserving our state park system in its entirety.

If you live in California, there's a few things you can do:
  •  Visit this page and click on a park near you that is being closed, then click the "take action now" button and write your legislator, asking them to NOT close the parks.
  • It's an alternative that I think is a cop-out and unfair, but AB 42, introduced by Asm. Jared Huffman would permit qualified non-profits to take over care of a park on the chopping block. Find your Assemblymember here (Click on Find My District on left nav bar) and ask them to support AB 42.
  • Post a memory you have of a visit to a state-run park.

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