Governor Brown recently announced California’s 2014-2015 budget, and I speak for all of us at the League in applauding the governor’s Parks-related proposals: to provide one-time funding of $14 million for operations and $40 million for backlogged maintenance costs, as well as to keep all parks open and to leave entrance fees unchanged.
This is a big step in the right direction. Of course, it will take continued dedication and investment to address the remarkable backlog of deferred maintenance facing our state parks. But, with this significant commitment, the state administration steps up to the plate to protect California’s natural heritage.
This much-needed financial support comes at a great time in our state’s history. This year California State Parks celebrates its 150th anniversary. While that special milestone reminds us to reflect on the history and legacy of our parks, this funding commitment reinforces their importance — as irreplaceable natural treasures, and as reflections of our identity as Californians and as Americans.
Ninety-five years ago, Save the Redwoods League joined the fight to protect some of the most beautiful places in the world for everyone to enjoy. Now, California has the largest park system in the U.S., with 280 park units that provide places for healthy recreation, critical habitat for wildlife, and examples of California scenery that take one’s breath away. We’ve come a long way, but the fight’s not over. We Californians will always be entrusted with the honor of caring for these special places.
The Brown administration’s parks funding should serve as a reminder that these places — from the northernmost redwoods parks to the Tijuana Estuary — belong at the top of our priority list. Just as the park champions of the past set them aside for future generations, let’s come together now in support of progress for our parks. Let’s cheer each step forward, like the one just taken by our state government.
Our parks matter, now more than ever, and they will always matter. The League will continue working with our parks partners to ensure these special places remain protected for every future generation to enjoy.