Tuesday, June 2, 2009

California State Parks and the State Budget

As a former Park Ranger, now a retired school teacher I can imagine a different approach to 'budgeting' the State Park System. The investment of years of public monies, time, and the realization of what we in California have created in a Park System is the essence of what government is about. We still need to continue to look to the future, planning ahead and refrain from actions that will undermine our achievements, investments, and non-renewable resources that the park protect and make available to our populace. There are some things that government can do that private enterprise can't, and the State Park System is one of those.

The easy way, but likely not close to the optimum, to manage the State Park budget is to simply eliminate tax supported funding. Moth-balling a park creates the potential for very serious problems down the road. Have those problems been considered? You have trained and site familiar staffs that are likely going to disappear. How will you bring the parks back on line? What of PM (preventative maintenance)? How will vandalism be prevented?

Why can't a 'fee-based' system be put in place that truly reflects the cost of operation of the Park System? For at least the short term, fees could be instituted, with the for knowledge that a number of people will be excluded from usage due to the higher fees, but that is certainly better than eliminating the recreation and historical resources for ALL. Along with streamlining management and services in the parks, and the elimination of some services might bring the cost of operation within reach of a fee-based system.

How about ROTATING access dates to parks, with seasonal or scheduled closures and for the short term rotating some staff between parks.

I strongly urge you to seek creative solutions that provide adequate revenue to keep our state parks open and accessible to all Californians.