Rally Protests California Park Closings
Activists representing more than half of the 70 state parks targeted for closure due to California’s budget crisis braved broiling temperatures Tuesday (June 21) in Sacramento to rally at the Capitol building.
The Chatsworth Patch reported that park supporters have been writing letters to state legislators to ward off the closures.
There’s pending legislation in the state legislature that could help to keep the parks open. AB 64 and AB 42 are on the Assembly and Senate floors and could allow the state to join with nonprofit organizations and local governments in the effort to stave off closures.
“It’s upbeat and fantastic,” said John Luker, representing the Santa Susana Pass State Historic Park about the rally. “Everyone realizes the parks will be closed. But by the same token in looking around and looking at the others in the same boat, it brings a feeling of mutual reinforcement.”
The California State Parks Foundation hosted Tuesday’s rally to highlight the impact of the closures, showcase the natural, cultural and historic resources that will be at risk, and meet legislators to seek ways to protect California’s state parks during this fiscal crisis.
Speakers included Elizabeth Goldstein, president of the California State Parks Foundation; Sen. Lois Wolk, author of Senate Bill 580; Assembly member Jared Huffman, author of Assembly Bill 42; Robert Hanna, founder of Range of Light and great-great grandson of John Muir, and Alden Olmsted, a filmmaker and son of naturalist John Olmsted.
Foundation spokesman Jerry Emory said about 200 people met under a large tent where pamphlets, photographs and other literature were handed to the public.
Holding the rally on the lawn of the Capitol gave the cause good exposure, Emory said.
“To see all of these independent representatives under one tent, (it is) impressive to see their dedication to their specific park and their regional parks,” Emory said.
Emory said Gov. Jerry Brown’s veto of the state budget last week was a surprise. He said he doesn’t believe it will change the status of the parks when the budget is finally signed.
As part of the 2011- 2012 state budget, the state park system will begin to implement $11 million in cuts that will grow to a permanent $22 million General Fund cut by 2012-2013.
“Everybody loves state parks. No one wants to see them close,” Luker said. “It’s the worst case scenario for everyone.”