Solutions for Keeping
YOUR State Parks Open
Stewards of the Coast and Redwoods (Stewards) is taking a multi-prong solution-based approach to keeping our parks open in western Sonoma County. With Austin Creek State Recreation Area on the closure list and numerous service reductions at Sonoma Coast State Park, Stewards convened two meetings with State Park staff in early June to engage the public in a discussion of how we can work together to keep our State Parks open and accessible.
There has been public outcry regarding new parking fees at Sonoma Coast State Park locations. To set the record straight, Stewards is not taking a position on the new fees. Stewards’ constituents are split on this issue. We have supporters who are vehemently opposed, and others who think it’s time Sonoma County implements fees that have been in place for years in other coastal areas of the state including our own Regional Parks. Those in opposition are concerned about limiting access for those in need, traffic issues and paying $8 for a short visit. Others see that fees paid by over 2 million out-of-town visitors could increase support and prevent further decline.
Stewards is focusing on giving the public an opportunity to receive factual
information, have a voice and work on solutions for
keeping our parks open,
which we believe will require
attacking the issue from many angles.
Stewards is very close to signing an operating agreement with State Parks to keep Austin Creek open, an option made possible by AB42 (Huffman). With the support of a $56,000 grant awarded by the California State Parks Foundation, Stewards will have the start-up funds needed to reopen Bull Frog Campground and manage volunteer programs to provide public assistance and trail maintenance. Stewards will utilize camping and day-use fees, donations, new partnerships and programs to keep Austin Creek open and moving towards becoming a new model for the future.
The solutions for reopening closed areas on Sonoma Coast are much more complex and the actions being implemented by State Parks in the Russian River District started some years ago. State Parks was directed to charge new fees and Sonoma Coast was even used as an example by the Schwarzenegger administration. In 2009, the District started implementing service reductions. We were all hopeful that Proposition 21, the $18 vehicle license fee, would pass in 2010. When the measure failed, State Parks was faced with further budget reductions. In 2011, the state legislature approved another $11 million cut for State Parks and now in 2012 the budget includes a $22 million permanent general fund cut.
Since 1979, the State Park budget has decreased by 67%, with 37% of that reduction in the past six years. These cuts have come during a time when park visitation is at an all-time high. Parks are one of the affordable places that people can go during tough economic times.
An issue that some people seem to be confused about is the Governor’s tax measure, which will appear on the November 2012 ballot. The tax measure will NOT restore any funding for State Parks. In fact, if it does not pass, there will be further budget reduction triggers for State Parks. Those reductions include funding cuts for lifeguards and a 20% reduction in rangers.
Few would disagree that State Parks needs a dedicated sustainable funding source in order to keep all 279 parks open and address the $1.3 billion deferred maintenance backlog.
1. What are the solutions? Some of our legislators are proposing new budget amendments (Evans/Simitian). Legislation is being proposed to help State Parks and their partners, like Stewards, who are stepping up to keep our local parks open (Evans and Huffman). Their help is very much appreciated but it’s not enough.
2. The California State Parks Foundation has also submitted protections for nonprofit organizations in the current budget and continues to provide ways for Californians to advocate for their parks. Communities and business leaders around the State are coming together to keep their parks open. In Sonoma County, the Parks Alliance for Sonoma County convened a group of over 20 agencies and organizations, who are working hard to keep their five local State Parks on the closure list open for at least another year. The local community of Jenner has been donating to keep the Jenner Visitor Center and restrooms open since 2009.
3. If new fees are implemented, Stewards feels strongly that those fees need to stay local. Stewards also wants to be sure people are aware that they can earn free day-use passes for Russian River area State Parks by volunteering a minimum of 16 hours a year in one of the Volunteers in Parks programs supported by Stewards. 200 hours provides a statewide pass. There are also affordable State Park passes for Californians who are low-income, disabled, seniors and veterans of war. For instance, any person 62 years of age or older with income limitations specified on the application form; or any person receiving aid under the applicable aid codes in the CalWORKS Program is eligible to receive the Golden Bear Pass for only $5.00 a year. Stewards will be working with State Parks to implement an affordable pass for State Parks within Sonoma County.
4. If Sonoma County residents want to prevent new parking fees on Sonoma Coast we need to work together on many fronts to come up with solutions. Funding is needed, new partnerships are needed, volunteers are needed and advocacy is needed.
ACTION: Join Stewards’ new advisory committee, Friends of Sonoma Coast so we can together represent the concerns of the environmental, fishing, surfing and hiking communities, business owners and residents in fighting to keep our parks open, thriving and moving towards excellence. Contact email@example.com or call (707) 869-9177 to be added to the list. A meeting will be set within the next month to get to work on solutions for keeping your state parks open and accessible.
In stewardship for yours, mine and our State Parks,
Michele Luna, Executive Director
Stewards of the Coast and Redwoods
2012 Parade Entries
During May and June Stewards participated in the Healdsburg FFA Parade, the Pride Parade in Guerneville and the Stumptown Parade, also in Guerneville. Talk about three diverse opportunities to showcase Stewards and our partnership with California State Parks.
The following is a report by Board Member Elizabeth Vega (aka Mother Nature) who coordinated the Healdburg FFA parade with the Progressive Club.
The parade today was great! Our float looked lovely. Amy Racina and I, mostly Amy... did a bang up job of decorating a float on a trailer put together by Amy’s boyfriend Mickey Hannigan. Lollie Mercer of Russian River Kyak and Canoes, graciously allowed us to use her parking lot to decorate and construct our eclectic masterpiece. Rebel Fegan, instructor from the High School & Progressive Club wore the Redwood Tree costume with great panache, and interacted with the interested on lookers, including a very small person who accepted the literature stating that she could have some because she had brought her adult with her. Two young high school lads, Hade Shoup and Aaron Miller, carried their very cool Progressive Club Banner, wearing “May the Forest be with you” T shirts and sporting a raven and a condor on their free arms.
Amy and Nell Kneibler, fashionably attired in Steward T shirts with matching racoon and owl, distributed Stewards info, and walked through the streets of Healdsburg parade goers; The van was driven by Mickey and the large State Parks posters were magnetically attached to the side. The float had lots of natural folliage and the two Stewards banners on the sides. Mother Nature in all her glorious regalia sat atop a stool on an old tin bath tub, lovingly secured by the crafstmanship of Mickey’s fine hand. Waving her flowery staff and holding a squirmy little river otter, she received many delighted oos and ahhhs from young and old alike, along with a few enthusiastic shouts of “Go Stewards!” & “Right on for the Parks” , and I am sure I even heard a little voice say, “I love you Mrs. Vega”. Mother Nature dedicated ( in her heart ) her participation in this event, to her own mother, Marion Elizabeth Hayes or Betty to those who knew her. Betty passed away peacefully, Tuesday, May 22nd and who instilled in her daughter a love a nature and beauty, a good celebration, and a flair for the theatrical.... among other things.
Thanks to everyone who participated in each parade. Special thanks to Keith McLaughlin
for providing his fabulous Jaquar for Lizzie Armstrong Jones (Doris Dickenson) to ride in at the
Ways to help Your State Parks
VOLUNTEERS ARE NEEDED for all the following events. Email firstname.lastname@example.org with your interest. We are now assigning people to time slots for Art in the Park and Gourmet Hike.
EVENTS AT ARMSTRONG REDWOODS STATE NATURAL RESERVE
ART IN THE PARK
June 23, 2012, Noon to 5:00 pm
Art Exhibition and Sale, Wine and Beer Tasting, Food and Music
Admission is FREE, parking fees apply, shuttle service provided, Wine and Beer tasting - fee includes commemorative glass.
June 23, 2012 - at noon at Art in the Park
Kennith Brower, son of David Brower will provide a reading from his book, The Wildness Within, Remembering David Brower during a special luncheon in the group picnic area at Armstrong Redwoods SNR.
$40 per person or two for $60 includes a signed copy of The Wildness Within & Lunch: a glass of wine or beer, commemorative glass, BBQ Ttri Tip or Portobello sandwich with potato salad, green salad and dessert.
Reservations available at River Reader or online.
July 21, 2012 - 1:00 pm to 5:00 pm
"From Sea to Table" - Stroll through the redwoods tasting delectible seafood treats paired with local Sonoma County wines.
Reservations available online for $35 for one, $65 for two.
ANNUAL OLD GROVE FESTIVAL
September 15, 2012 - Gates open at 4:00 pm
"Swinging in the Redwoods with Dan Hicks"
Opener - Solid Air and Pre-show - Sticky Notes
$40 for Redwood Circle (front rows) and $25 general, Child (5-12) $10
One child (up to 12 years) free with one paying adult
Reservations available online.
Reservations also available for our fabulous pre-sold meal.
Fort Ross Bicentennial
Celebrating the Fort Ross Bicentennial is something State Parks and our sister cooperating association FRIA (Fort Ross Interpretive Association) has been planning for quite some time. 2012 will be filled with special events in Sonoma County as well as in San Francisco that you don't want to miss.
Complete listing of 2012 Events
Shop Duncans Mills on Tuesdays
Mr. Trombly's Tea - 15% goes to Saving our Parks and 10% of online sales when you use the code parks at checkout.
Weavers and Dreamers - State Parks Tuesdays - 10% goes to Saving our Parks
Worldly Goods - State Parks Tuesdays - 10% goes to Saving our Parks