December 5, 2009
In 2010, we will be working very hard to get the California State Parks and Wildlife Conservation Trust Fund of 2010 on the November ballot.
Those who are willing to help gather signatures for this initiative are required to attend a signature gathering workshop. Stewards is sponsoring the first signature gathering workshop in the state and if you are not able to attend on December 12th, please let us know and we will put you on the list to be notified of the next workshop after the first of the year. Email email@example.com to register.
We anticipate starting to gather signatures after the first of the year through the middle of April.
November 6, 2009
It is with great hope that we report that a significant step towards sustainability for our State Parks was taken this week by the California State Parks Foundation and partners. On November 3rd a proposed statewide ballot measure was filed with the Attorney General's office. The "California State Parks and Wildlife Conservation Trust Fund Act of 2010, would create a stable, reliable and adequate source of funding to protect state parks and conserve California wildlife."
From the California State Park Foundation's website:
Next Step - Qualified Signatures on Petitions
The next step will be to qualify enough signatures to get the initiative on the ballot in November of 2010. Stewards will be spearheading this effort in Sonoma County and if you are willing to help, please email firstname.lastname@example.org with your name, preferred email address and phone number. I will have more information after November 16th and will send out another update at that time.
October 28, 2009
The following list of Service Reductions in Russian River area State Parks was finally released:
Austin Creek State Recreation Area
• Bull Frog Pond Campground and Tom King/Mannings Flat I and II Backcountry Campsites closed November 1, 2009 to June 30, 2010
Sonoma Coast State Park
• Bodega Head East Day Use, Campbell Cove Day Use, Bodega Dunes Day Use, South Salmon Day Use, South Goat Rock and Blind Beach Day Use, Russian Gulch Day Use, and Vista Point Day Use closed November 2, 2009 to June 30, 2010
• Jenner Visitor Center and Public Restroom closed November 2. 2009 to June 30, 2010 (Note: Stewards of the Coast and Redwoods, a State Park nonprofit cooperating association, is working hard to obtain funding to keep the Jenner Visitor Center and Public Restroom open).
• Bodega Dunes Campground partially closed November 1, 2009 to June 30, 2010.
• Willow Creek and Pomo Canyon Campgrounds closed November 1, 2009 to June 30, 2010.
Fort Ross State Historic Park
• Reef Campground and Day Use Area closed November 1, 2009 to June 30, 2010.
• Fort Ross State Historic Park including Visitor Center and Fort Compound closed Monday through Thursday.
Kruse Rhododendron State Reserve
• Restroom Facilities closed November 2, 2009 to June 30, 2010.
Salt Point State Park
• Fisk Mill Day Use and Lower Gerstile Cove Day Use closed November 2, 2009 to June 30, 2010.
Stewards is working hard to restore the following services:
Ways for you to Help Stewards
If you are able to donate now, before November 9th you will spare Stewards the expense of sending you a Year End Appeal letter.
October 12, 2009
While our Governor has said he will not close any State Parks, the reality is that we are going to see partial and seasonal closures, closed restrooms, new iron rangers for fee collection where they haven’t been before and the bottom line is that the millions of visitors who come to Sonoma County year-round to visit our State Parks will not have access to all that our parks have to offer in the coming months.
As most of you who have been following the news articles know, things change rapidly and our local State Park District has again been asked to rework their proposal as to how they can sustain this latest round of cuts. Originally, most of the cuts were going to be sustained by closing Fort Ross due to the cost of operating the park’s expensive water system. Now, without closing the Fort, those costs have to be distributed throughout the rest of the District, which is not an easy task.
As of this writing this is what I can report in regards to proposed service reductions:
How will this affect tourism and access to our State Parks? Well, everyone needs to use a restroom multiple times a day and while traveling they purposely stop along their route in search of restrooms. One of our docents, Lois Benson, wrote a letter to the Press Democrat Editor recently expressing concern about this very issue. People may have no choice but to pull off the road and find a secluded area to relieve themselves, thus fouling our beaches and park lands..
What are we doing about this?
The Fort Ross Interpretive Association is working on ways to restore services at the Fort and Salt Point. Stewards is working on the following ways to restore services at Armstrong Redwoods and Sonoma Coast.
State Park Access Pass
You have heard about the State Park Access Pass, an annual $15 surcharge on our vehicle license fee in exchange for free day use in our State Parks, for the past couple years. Since we could not get the legislature to pass this proposal in the current budget we will now need to see if we can get this measure on the ballot in November of 2010. A number of our largest partner organizations, including the California State Parks Foundation, are looking at the feasibility of winning such a ballot measure. Despite the overwhelming support that we have received from our constituents and supporters, there are many people in California that are opposed to tax increases of any kind, noting that Californians pay the highest taxes in the nation. We don’t see this as a tax increase in the same way as others since the people of California would be receiving a huge benefit for paying this fee. Being able to access our parks for free and providing the funding needed to adequately fund them and even address the 1.2 billion dollars in deferred maintenance would allow State Park to exist independent of any general fund allocation, making the park system sustainable into the future. Many other states have been successful in providing for their parks in this way and we hope Californians will see their way clear to approve such a win win solution.
If it is decided that we should move forward with the ballot measure we will need to do the following in the months ahead.
In order for us to be successful in these efforts we need your monetary and volunteer support. Please support us with a donation if you can.
Ways for you to Help Stewards
September 18, 2009 Update
Well, it sure has been an interesting and frustrating week in regards to news about PARK CLOSURES!
We thought we would finally hear about which parks are closing after the list made it to the Governor's office, but then we heard the announcement was again delayed. There was lots of speculation about why and what was going on. Then yesterday, the reasons became more clear when an internal State Park memo was leaked to the organization, Public Employees for Environmental Responsibility.
Basically, the memo draws attention to the many legal ramifications that could result from closing many State Parks. The memo cites:
Public Employees for Environmental Responsibility. (This link will take you to more information, the memo and other interesting related links.)
Also, now Annadel State Park has been reported to be on the closure list, just as Fort Ross was a few weeks ago. Parks supporters are dismayed by this news and ready to fight to keep them open. This is a good thing - it's going to take everyone in our communities across the State to rally around keeping our parks open.
We are hopeful that our beloved Armstrong Redwoods might be spared a place on "the list" this time, but we are expecting to hear of seasonal closures and reduced services in Austin Creek and some beach locations on Sonoma Coast. Those details have not yet been released .
I have been telling you that Stewards is ready to jump into action as soon as the list is made public. This is still true and we are making more progress with our ideas and talking to other key agencies and elected officials in Sonoma County. We will work towards short-term solutions (over the next two years) and a long-term solution.
Our long-term solution is still the State Park Access Pass (SPAP), a $15 surcharge on our vehicle license fee. The feasibility of this option is still being explored by a number of statewide environmental and conservation groups. We are disappointed that after two tries, we have not been able to get the support we need from our state legislature. This means that we would be on our own to raise the money needed to put this measure on the ballot in November of 2010. There are many challenges ahead and we will not give up.
I have been interviewed two times this week to bring attention to this issue and also to promote our Old Grove Festival. I have more interviews scheduled this coming week and I will be testifying at a hearing on Tuesday, September 22, before the Assembly Water, Parks and Wildlife Committee. This is an informational hearing on park closures and partnerships. Assemblymember Jared Huffman (D-San Rafael) is convening this meeting in Sausalito and there will be an opportunity for the public to express their concern about our state parks.
Date: September 22, 2009
Time: 2:00 p.m. – 4:00 p.m.
Location: Callippe Room at Cavallo Point.
601 Murray Circle (Fort Baker)
Sausalito, CA 94965
You can help by paying your fees at park entrances and donating when fees are not required. Also, when you see a park employee, take a moment to thank them for all their hard work and dedication. They are taking 3 furlough days without pay each month and dealing with the stress of not knowing what might happen to their jobs if parks close.
Join us on August 29th and 30th at the Bodega Seafood, Art and Wine Festival as we particpate in a I (HEART) State Parks Weekend of Action. Show your support for our State Parks at this event by signing your message on a green hearts that will be taken to the Capital and shared with policy leaders after Labor Day.
July 28, 2009, Updated 8/4/09
Can we Keep our State Parks Open?
Michele Luna, Executive Director of Stewards of the Coast and Redwoods
Well, now we know what we face! The Governor has cut an additional $6.2 million from the State Parks budget bringing the total to $14.2 million for the 2009/2010 fiscal year. That doesn’t count the 3 furlough days that State Park employees are required to take each month and the potential revenue losses with park closures. This is devastating news for our parks statewide. We can expect to see the potential closing of more than 100 State Parks after Labor Day unless local communities can attract financial sponsors to help keep them open. Seasonal and mid-week closures will also be considered. The Governor has put the responsibility on the people of California to keep our parks open through public private partnerships.
With the economy affecting so many people, we need our parks. Day use attendance is record breaking and our campgrounds are full because people are using our parks more then ever. State Parks provide an affordable vacation for most Californians. Where will they go to recreate with their families during these trying economic times?
Our local rural communities will suffer with the loss of tourism dollars. Russian River District State Parks attract close to 5 million visitors a year. That represents an influx of millions of dollars into our local economy. How will struggling local businesses survive? How many more small business owners will be forced to close their doors at the end of summer?
How can you help?
It's now up to us locally to come up with a strategy to keep Armstrong Redwoods State Natural Reserve, Austin Creek State Recreation Area, Sonoma Coast State Park, Fort Ross State Historic Park and Salt Point State Park open in the Russian River District. Funding is needed to keep our facilities open, including Stewards’ office and our Visitor Centers. Our parks need our help in order to maintain essential services like water, sewage, electricity and trash pickup, to name just a few.
Park visitors have suggested fee increases, which we need to be receptive and ready for. Many of our parks are free for walk-in visitors. We hope that locals who use our parks daily for exercise and to walk their dogs will find a way to give back either by way of a monetary donation or by volunteering their time. Fees benefit the State Park System statewide. Donations to Stewards of the Coast and Redwoods (Stewards) and volunteer support for our special events, like the Bodega Seafood, Art and Wine Festival and the Old Grove Festival, will directly benefit our local State Parks. Either way, it’s going to take all of us contributing to keep our parks open.
The more life support we can provide, the greater opportunity there will be to reduce the number of parks that will close. If you are someone who thinks you can help bring significant financial support to our parks, please contact me. We will be convening a working group of people to move us forward with this effort as soon as possible. If you are able to contribute even a modest amount, we will put your donations to good use specifically to keep our local parks open.
Initially, we see this as a two-year project, after which we are hopeful that we can float a successful ballot measure that provides a sustainable funding source for our State Park System into the future.
The time is NOW to create a positive legacy for our grandchildren so they will not loose the chance to visit a State Park and learn about the fragile natural and cultural resources that NEED our stewardship into the future!
Michele Luna can be reached at email@example.com or (707) 869-9177 x4#. Visit www.oldgrovefestival.org for event information.
July 21, 2009
A State Budget Deal:
Here is a quote from the Associated Press. The devil will be in the details to follow.
From this Associated Press story in the San Jose Mercury News: "— Cuts about $8 million from state parks, allowing the majority of state parks, beaches and attractions to stay open. Some parks are likely to close, however, based on popularity and use."
June 26, 2009
This week the budget was taken up by the legislature and there was no progress made in approving the recommendations of the Budget Conference Committee. This also means that the State Parks Access Pass (SPAP) has not been taken up for approval. While it was mentioned on the floor of both houses, it's not getting the support it needs.
For this reason, the California State Parks Foundation is recommending that we now focus on contacting the BIG FIVE who will be working on recrafting a budget that will hopefully be acceptable to all. This may not include the SPAP, which is a huge disappointment. This also means that we have to fight to keep funding in the budget for State Parks. A $70 million cut for State Parks in the upcoming fiscal year means park closures.
We expect another vote to be taken on the budget early next week so it's very important that we all
TAKE THE FOLLOWING ACTION TODAY:
WRITE LETTERS TO THE BIG FIVE
Honorable Darrell Steinberg
Senate President pro Tem
State Capitol, Room 205
Sacramento, CA 95814
(916) 651 4006
Honorable Dennis Hollingsworth
Senate Republican Leader
State Capitol, Room 305
Sacramento, CA 95814
(916) 651 4036
Honorable Karen Bass
Speaker of the Assembly
State Capitol, Room 219
Sacramento, CA 95814
(916) 319 2047
Honorable Sam Blakeslee
Assembly Republican Leader
State Capitol, Room 3104
Sacramento, CA 95814
(916) 319 2033
State Parks Access Pass
June 15, 2009
Again, congratulations on a job well done. We are one step closer to Saving our State Parks. Today the Budget Conference Committee did two things, one bad and the other very good. The bad news is they removed funding for State Parks from the general fund and the good news is that they voted to enact the State Park Access Pass (SPAP), the California State Parks Foundation's proposal to institute a $15 surcharge on vehicle license fees of non-commercial vehicle. This will provide Californians with free day-use access to state parks and generate much-needed revenues for the system if approved by a 2/3 majority of the legislature.
Since this passed with members who are Democrats voting YES and Republicans voting NO, we are on to the next phase of our effort , which may not be so easy.
The budget recommendations from the Budget Conference Committee will become a Budget Bill that will go before each house of the legislature for approval and then to the Governor. Will they get the deed done before the State runs out of money in July? Your guess is as good as mine!
Please TAKE ACTION now by sending letters to support the State Parks Access Pass by way of the California State Parks Foundation's website.
ALSO we need to reach out to our friends and family members who live in districts where legislators aren't as supportive of tax or fee increases. Those legislators need to hear from their constituents that they support the SPAP.
Circulate this NEW Petition and return it to us asap . We will fax them to the California State Parks Foundation.
Encourage your friends and family to sign up to receive our E-newsletter so they can be kept up-to-date on our efforts to sustain our state parks into the future.
We also hope that many of you will show up for our State Parks Appreciation Day on Sunday, June 21st. it's going to be a wonderful morning as we join together and be inspired by one another's stories about how much our parks mean to us.
June 13, 2009
A NEW letter to members of the Budget Conference Committee is needed this weekend.
On Thursday, June 11, the Budget Conference Committee did address State Parks very briefly. There was some support expressed and an indication that they are hearing our economic concerns. The item was left open to deal with at a later time, which we now know may come up for a vote on Monday. They do not know where they will find the funds to cover the budget cut for parks. A number of ideas are being circulated but none seem to be optimum at this time. I need to express to you all that things are NOT looking good.
June 10, 2009
Our Supporters are phenomenal!! With their help Stewards faxed about 4,500 signatures to the California State Parks Foundation on Monday, June 9th. A number of businesses in Santa Rosa, almost all the businesses up and down Main Street in Guerneville, many Bodega Bay locations and a good many individual members of Stewards were incredibly supportive in helping us reach this impressive number. The numbers of letters that have been written and faxed or emailed to our legislative representatives in Sonoma County has also been near the top of the list statewide.
We also appreciate your supportive emails and suggestions for helping to keep our State Parks open. Right now we are awaiting the recommendation of the Budget Conference Committee. This bi-partisan group is meeting daily and going page by page through the governor's proposed budget. We expect them to address the State Park budget cuts later in the week and we are hoping for a positive recommendation. As soon as we hear, we will provide you with an update.
9:00 am - Walk with other State Park supporters through the ancient redwoods to the historic Forest Theater.
10:00 am - Traditional Campfire Program
10:30 am - Guest Speakers to date: Supervisor Efren Carrillo, State Park Archeologist Breck Parkman, Russian River Chamber President Margaret Kennett, Richard Nichols from Coastwalk, Recreation Business Owner Suki Waters, plus other legislative reps, park staff, and park user groups.
11:00 am - Share your stories, music, skits showing appreciation for your favorite State Parks.
Wear Green or a Green Ribbon
Beverages for sale
Plan a picnic in the park with your Dad after the event.
HELP US SPREAD THE WORD.
New Economic Impact Survey
On June 8, 2009, findings from a recent survey conducted by Sacramento State University were released. The survey found that visitors to California’s state parks spend an average of $4.32 billion per year in park-related expenditures, based on attendance estimates of about 74.9 million visitors a year. The survey found that park visitors spend an average of $57.63 per visit, including $24.63 inside state parks and $33 in local communities. Russian River area State Parks alone attract 4.1 million visitors a year and Sonoma County State Parks attract almost 5 million visitors a year. Do the math and we have further confirmation that closing state parks will devastate our Sonoma County economy to the tune of about $165 million a year.
June 4, 2009
On Tuesday, June 2nd one hundred State Park supporters attended the Budget Conference Committee meeting to testify against the Governors proposal to cut the General Fund allocation for State Parks. This cut could result in the closure of 220 State Parks including all the State Parks in Sonoma County.
We arrived at 9:30 am to lobby legislators and met with many staff members who were for the most part supportive. We stressed the economic impacts to our communities, the loss of lifeguard services at our beaches, the destruction of this incredible legacy started during the depression, and the loss of education for school children. The California State Parks Foundation did an excellent job organizing this effort in a very short time. We are very appreciative to them.
The Budget Conference Committee meeting started at 1:30. Resources shared the agenda with Prisons and we had to wait for them to present their recommendations and then for the public to testify. When it was time for the Commiittee to address Resources it was close to 4:30. The Legislative Analyst's Office recommended fee increases in lieu of State Park closures. We do support fee increases considering the dire situation our state is in but we don't want to raise fees to the point where the public has to think twice about whether or not they can afford to visit our parks.
When we got our chance to testify, we each had 60 seconds to speak. Testimony lasted until about 8:00 pm. I want to thank Fred Luna, Suki Waters and Clara Bolster who also testified from Stewards. We made a great team and were happy to see that the Press Democrat covered our issues with a letter to the editor on Tuesdayand articles on Wednesda and Thursday.
It's hard to know what will happen but the Conference Committee is planning to wade through all the budget issues and come up with their recommendations by next week. I am most worried about Armstrong Redwoods since it was on the close list last year.
State Parks Tourist Dollars Fuel Local Economies and
General Fund Revenue
SACRAMENTO – The State of California contributes roughly one tenth of one per cent of its General Fund Budget toward the costs of operating California’s 279 state parks. Yet the parks generate billions in revenue for private businesses, resulting in hundreds of millions in State tax revenue. Over 100,000 private sector jobs are dependent on the spending by park visitors in local businesses.
The 2008-09 budget for California State Parks includes $149 million from the state’s tax-based General Fund. This represents just slightly more than one-tenth of one percent of the state's total General Fund Budget ($149 million divided by $103.4 billion = 0.13%).
Assuming a $15 billion deficit in the overall state budget, then entirely eliminating the Department of Parks and Recreation and closing all 279 state parks in California would fill less than 1 percent of the need.
At this point, it is important for the public to understand that an examination of the numbers shows that reducing the budget of California State Parks will do little to improve the state budget gap. It would, however, cause significant harm to local economies and reduce the State’s General Fund revenue even further.
State Parks is a critical piece of California's travel and tourism industry generating more than 75 million visitor days every year
Based on a 2002 study, visitors generate more than $6.5 billion dollars in total output and new sales for private businesses in communities around State parks yearly as a result of visitor spending. The tax revenue from that spending generates $2.35 in General Fund revenue for the State for every dollar of General Fund received by State Parks to operate the system (primarily from sales and income taxes on the travel and tourism industry). [ The Role of California State Parks in the California Economic System, James R. King, JK Inc., December 2002]
Therefore, based on the study, saving $149 million by closing State Parks would cost the General Fund more than twice that amount in lost revenue (more than $350 million). Also, eliminating that $149 million also eliminates the $6.5 billion in profits generated by visitor spending in local businesses around parks.
The clear conclusion is: Cutting parks will reduce the number of park visitors, thereby reducing visitor spending and revenue to private businesses by tens of millions, causing job layoffs and damage to local economies. And in the end, that will reduce tax revenue to the State making the State budget situation worse, not better.
May 29, 2009
PLEASE Act Now to Save our State Parks
Parks in Sonoma County on the Close List:
Armstrong Redwoods SR
Austin Creek SRA
Fort Ross SHP
Jack London SHP
Kruse Rhododendron SR
Petaluma Adobe SHP
Salt Point SP
Sonoma Coast SB
The complete list is on the California State Parks Foundation website.
TALKING POINTS FROM THE CALIFORNIA STATE PARKS FOUNDATION:
Beginning July 1st, the Governor will cut the parks core funding in half and then eliminate all core funding in twelve months. Without this money, there will be no choice but to close the majority of our park system.
Even if you are not planning to visit a park soon, the governor's short-sighted proposal will impact you and every California resident. It is the very definition of "penny-wise, pound foolish". Consider the facts:
FACT: The General Fund budget that state parks receive accounts for less than 1/10 of one percent of the entire state budget.
FACT: Last year alone, there were over 80 million visitors to state parks – and all indications are that this year was going to be even higher.
FACT: For every dollar that funds the parks, $2.35 is returned to the state's General Fund through economic activities in the communities surrounding the parks.
That means eliminating all funding for state parks could actually result in the state losing over $350 million dollars in revenue.
For the financial well-being of our state, we must oppose this reckless plan. I have had the displeasure of notifying you of threats to our parks in the past. But this is the worst threat to park system in its 150 year history.
Closing parks will have a ripple effect that will cause further economic turmoil in towns across the state already reeling from bad economic decisions made in Sacramento. Closing state parks not only loses potential revenue within the park, but will cause losses to the local economies in communities that surround the state parks as well.
To stop this short-sighted plan, we need to show the strength of our 100,000 members, so we need you to take the following two actions?before it is too late.
Last year, when the Governor proposed his first ill-conceived plan to close 48 state parks, it was only because of the public outrage that our parks remained open.
Our members came out in force and descended upon our state capital with over 50,000 petitions of outrage.
This year his plan is even more drastic. So we must once again show the Governor that we will not stand idly by while he makes bad decisions that will impact our families and our state's fiscal stability.
And during these horrible economic times when more and more residents are relying upon our state parks as low-cost alternatives to expensive vacation plans, this is the worst time to enact such a short-sighted plan.
We need you today to sign the enclosed petitions and send them back immediately, along with the most generous emergency contribution today, to save our state parks - before it is too late.
Thank you in advance for once again coming to the rescue of our parks.
May 27, 2009
On May 26th the governor's finance officials released the following details on how the governor would cut $5.5 billion out of the budget through June 2010 - included is a plan to reduce $70 million in funding for State Parks by reducing their general fund allocation. That could mean the closure of 80% of our State Parks. Read more HERE.
May 22, 2009
In May of 2009 our govenor is again threatening our beloved State Parks. Read more HERE and we will be keeping you up-to-date on this page of our website and through our E-Newsletter. Sign up HERE.