Imagine living in a society that did not value its parks, those areas set aside for protection and enjoyment of an area’s cultural, historical, and natural resources. It’s hard to imagine this country without Yellowstone, Sequoia, Everglades, and Great Smoky Mountain National Parks.

Popular parks of their stature are not likely to be phased out, but in California, Governor Schwarzenegger has injected an insidious proposal into California’s budget discussions that could affect not only us RVers but our children and grandchildren and everyone else that values heritage, diversity, and nature’s treasures.

The governor plans to close 48 of California’s lesser-used state parks, which would save about $9 million–about 0.1% of the state budget–according to data collected by Environment California. The fact that this is such a trivial amount, which could easily be resolved by a little belt-tightening and pork-purging, suggests an unstated motive beyond this small pittance.

Many of the parks proposed for closure have few facilities or staff-heavy programs and infrastructure and therefore collect lower fees than the more popular parks. That doesn’t mean that the parks are not used, enjoyed, and valued, but rather that they do not bring in the $$ that the bean counters would like to see.

Is this the type of decision we want from our leadership, where the value of something is determined solely by its ability to raise capital? Could it be that selling off these valuable (though not high income producing) California assets to private interests, reminiscent of Congressman Richard Pombo’s recent plan to sell selected National Parks, could be at the core of a more devious objective?

Whatever the real reasons may be, closing these parks is not the answer to whatever problem the governor faces. Maybe if I took him with me to where I spent the last three days, Montana de Oro State Park, one of those slated for closing, and stood with him on the windy bluff watching the waves crash on the rocky outcroppings below, breathing in the exhilarating salt air, and listening to the sea gulls raucous calling overhead as they soared on the invisible updrafts, he might change his mind. Maybe if he spotted pelagic cormorants darting in and out of their precarious nests scratched into the vertical face of the bluffs, or waded through fields of golden poppies and yellow mustard spreading like carpets across the bluff tops and giving the park its name Mountain of Gold, while a sea otter, a couple seals, and several pigeon guillemots fished in the rolling waves destined to break on the sandy beach of Spooner’s Cove, he may look at the parks with a different perspective.

Montagne de Oro State Park

Close the parks? Be serious. It is not acceptable. You can send an email to the governor at Environment California, and let him know how you feel about losing your parks for a few pieces of silver.

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  2. mike scans

    Sounds like the movie “Evan Almighty”. Just that it was congressman and not a senator that was llining his pockets. As with everything, when the term… Schwarta.. is elected out, maybe a more sensitive individual will be elected. I don’t have much hope however, it is California after all (AKA the left coast).

  3. Ed

    And again,it shows that the once great state of California has the best polititians that money can buy.
    I am no longer a resident of CA and do not regret leaving.It just seems to go from bad to worse.I wonder if it has gone so far downhill that there will be no way of ever regaining it’s place again.
    It is easy to see why the parks would be a target,no one in big business would lose any money,there might even be a chance to gain some,something would be done with all of that property. It’s a case of “follow the money”

  4. Bob Difley

    As Ron says, “we only get what we vote for” and if you don’t vote, you get even less of what you want. We as the voting public, and especially as RVers that can left behind in the grand scheme of things, must–MUST–continue to stay aware of the issues that affect us and vote our wishes–and our conscience. Otherwise, we get what we deserve.

  5. Ron

    While I hate to see any parks close as well, this post hit a raw nerve with me. This post is exactly the same as the 50,000 other letters to the govenor whining about THEIR favorite thing that is being cut. NOBODY wants their pet interest to be cut but let’s face it, the citizens of this state sit on the duffs and allow their elected officials to make horrible and wrong decisions on how our money is spent then the gripe when their favorite thing is cut to pay for the ridiculous waste and hand-out programs that you allow YOUR officials to spend.

    The fact is, the majority of the people in this state want handouts and benefits and retirement plans for state employees that are WAY better than anything anyone in the private sector will ever get AND it must be paid for somehow. It’s not Shwarznegger’s fault alone it’s every elected official and the HUGE state bureaucracy WE have allowed our government to put in place. Fact is it’s only a minority of people that vote who don’t want it that way so I guess it’s democracy at work.

    We only get what we vote for and we voted for Schwarznegger, Feinstein, Boxer, etc. so that’s what we got….

    My apologies. I don’t usually get involved in political discussions online because they usually degrade into pointless ego contests but this one hit a raw nerve. Not that I don’t agree with the issue it’s just that it’s a myopic view of the world and there are 10,000 .1% issues with the budget that should be addressed. Speak with your vote at election time and it ain’t going to be fixed with the govenor’s office…

  6. Jim

    Thanks for bringing this to our attention – and hopefully readers, especially those who are California residents (and therefore voters), will respond.

    I suspect you’ve identified the root of the problem – revenue, or lack thereof from these sites – along with cash for the state if any of these sites were sold to developers.

    Viewing parks strictly from a “bottom-line” viewpoint, separated from their intrinsic values, is unfortunately a trend at the national level as well as in California.

    The only hope is for those who see value in parks beyond sources of revenue to speak up.

  7. Hank

    We used to live just outside Los Osos and visited the park sometimes. The park never seemed to be very well used but closing it would be shame. We live in AZ now and are very glad we moved too. I am old enough to have seen Yellowstone and Yosemite when you could drive through and not be driven (for a few pieces of silver). Never a good thing when the government subsides anything let alone the parks. Should have been a private concern and then maybe it would have survived. Why is Hearst Castle doing so well? Maybe someone should look at those attractions and copy them. JMO

  8. Michael

    I’m 62 yrs young and in the lasat 10 or so years I’ve seen our state fall in to much disarray and it seems that no one in Sacramento really cares, just as long as they get their raises on time and everything remains the same! I used to think highly of our governor, but have come to the conclusion that he is just like all of the “crooks” that we have in office. It seems that day by day things keep getting worse. Gas, food, you name it. I used to feel comfortable about finances and my standard of living but now I’m having second thoughts. I’m not surprised about the parks situation. They always cut things to make us think feel that it’s our fault that we are having to cut some of the parks, but I know how greedy our elected officials really are and come time to vote there will be new people in office though I doublt that it will make much difference, unless there is a complete overhaul of our system. My thoughts!!!!

  9. John

    It seems to be a bad sign for things to come. They keep looking at everything but the real problem. As long as they run a” business as usaual” mind set, it is only going to keep failing. A quick fix today, won’t take care of next weeks problem.

  10. Gypsy John

    So, what’s the difference between this move and the one that has been happening for many years called “Rails to Trails”? I mean now everyone is jumping on the bandwagon wanting to install Light Rail lines all over the country at 1,000 times the cost of what they had in the first place–but now we have all these trails that aren’t being maintained that serve so few. Just think what will happen to all these parks that get closed! Create major fire problems for non-maintained lands? Build new homes?

    I left California 4+ years ago and have never looked back. That State is going to POT (in more ways than one) and until taxpayers stand up and tell the bureaucrats what to do–these sorts of problems are going to continue to manifest themselves.


  11. Wink

    I think cutting wast in the Government offices and giving to those that are perfectly able to work and may not suppose to be in this country any way would be a better place to start.