The budget approved by the California State Senate and soon to be signed by the Governor is bad news for our state parks: As currently written, the cuts are expected to lead to the closure of 70 parks throughout the state sometime between July of this year and June, 2012. In the Yuba River watershed, this greatly increases the chance that both Malakoff Diggins State Historic Park & the South Yuba River State Park will close. But, there is still time to fight to keep them open.
WHEN MIGHT THE PARKS CLOSE?
We do not yet know if or when our parks will close. Never, in the history of the California State Parks system, have we decided to “close” parks due to an insufficient budget. Every other year, Californians had decided that parks were important enough to maintain. This is the first year we have truly decided to shirk our duty to these most special places.
WHAT WILL CLOSURE LOOK LIKE?
We do not yet know how the State plans to “close” Malakoff Diggins and the South Yuba River State Parks. In both cases, the size and shape of the parks and the nature of the surrounding area makes physical closure impossible. Currently, a bill passing through the State Legislature is designed to ease a transition of some park management to nonprofit groups. But we all understand that local nonprofits cannot provide the safety and law enforcement, nor the level of full-time professionalism in maintenance and management, that our California Department of Parks and Recreation provides. In addition, counties find themselves just as hard-pressed to maintain their past levels of protection with today’s revenues. It is grossly negligent to demand that they now shoulder the responsibility that the State of California had taken up in direct response to the will of the People of California to protect these natural and historic treasures.
WHAT CAN WE DO TO KEEP THE PARKS OPEN?
There is still time to convince the Governor and the Legislature to keep parks open. Write your legislators, call your legislators, and definitely call and write the Governor. In addition, SYRCL and our allies are preparing a number of additional ways we can all, together, convince our state leaders to do the right thing, so please check our website often for action alerts and updates. You can also friend our facebook page for alerts also at https://www.facebook.com/#!/yubariver