Save California State Parks: A Call to Arms

Governor Schwarzenegger has proposed closing 200 California state parks—that’s 80% of our park system. We can stop him, but must act fast. On Tuesday, June 2, the legislature’s budget conference committee will consider this proposal. Contact your state rep now.

If the parks close, they’ll get trashed—there’s no way to stop determined people from breaking into an open space. The existing threats are bad enough, but if this goes through, vandalism will be rampant and the threat of wildfires will increase exponentially, as unmonitored trespassers will inevitably light campfires. Extra and expensive law enforcement will be required in the long run. Then if the parks ever reopen, there will be huge clean-up costs. It’s far easier to maintain something than it is to clean it up. Take action now.

Parents need inexpensive places to take kids—especially during recessions—and state parks provide an invaluable educational and cultural resource. It costs $354 for a family of four to visit Disneyland for a single day. It costs $5 for a state park. The parks also draw overseas visitors, who inject vast sums into our broader economy.

There is a solution. A $10 vehicle-licensing fee would raise $282 million for the parks. In exchange, the public gets free access to all state parks. This had been proposed by retired legislator John Laird, but Don Perata killed it. Take a look at the last year’s plan: it’s time to resurrect it. Contact your state representative now.

The land belongs to the people. Stand up and claim what is ours. In the wise words of Joni Mitchell, you don’t know what you’ve got till it’s gone. Let’s not find out.

For more on the story, check out what Frommer’s has to say, based on my report on