As we reported in an e-mail to you last month, Save the Redwoods League is very concerned about proposal to close 70 California State Parks, including 16 redwood parks, by July 1, 2012, because of state budget cuts. We believe that closing parks is a short-sighted response to the current fiscal crisis. Not only do parks provide low-cost recreation for millions of visitors, they also are an important source of revenue for local communities and the state, and they are critical for our health.
With over 72 million visits annually, state parks already bring in more than $4 billion in tourism and tourist-related activity throughout California. In an era when time spent outdoors is a necessity for the health and well-being of every Californian, we need a new vision for our state parks-a vision for the next 100 years and beyond. The moment has never been more important.
We are working in the field and at the state capital to understand the changing situation and to ensure that parks remain protected and accessible. Our guide is our recently completed report, A Vision for Excellence for California’s State Parks. This report, produced with the California State Parks Foundation, calls for public, private and nonprofit entities to cooperate in new ways to support the system.
The report makes it clear that while restoring the latest budget cut and keeping the parks open is a start, we also need to deal with the fundamental issue of chronic underfunding and the long-term deterioration of the park system. That’s why the League is looking beyond the current crisis at the long-term future of the redwood parks and how we can best ensure they are protected and made available to the public this century.
We expect our long-term strategy to be considered by our Board of Directors in December 2012.
Meanwhile, we encourage you to continue to visit and enjoy the redwood parks this summer and to talk to your friends, families and neighbors about the importance of public parks to society.
Thank you for your support. We will keep you informed.