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Keeping Our
State Parks Open

from Environment California

Thirty years ago, California's state parks were the crown jewels of the state. But for years the government has been cutting them up for development and underfunding them.

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On September 25, 2009, Governor Schwarzenegger announced that he was not going to close any state parks. This was a great victory and it means that during these tough economic times Californians will be able to get out to their state parks and enjoy the beauty of California. But, it highlights the need for the legislature and the Governor to work together to find a permanent funding solution to restore our parks to their beauty and grandeur.
A major study from a team of researchers at Sacramento State University shows research numbers prove the state parks system more than pays for itself by generating sales tax revenue. Seventy-five million people visit California state parks annually. According to survey results taken from the fall of 2007 through February 2009, these visitors spend $4.3 billion in "park-related expenditures" each year. The study found that the average visitor spends $24.63 inside state parks, and another $33 outside coming to or from the park. While out-of-state visitors represent only 12 percent of park visits, they represent 38 percent of the spending, or nearly $1.7 billion. This is because they spend more than three times the average, $184.91 per person per visit. This money generates $300 million in sales tax revenue to state government, including $122 million in sales tax revenue each year generated by out-of-state visitors.
The Sacramento State University study also found that the state park system gets some of the highest marks from the public for any government agency, and that recent gas price spikes have led to an increase in visits to state parks, at high levels which have been sustained well into 2009.
Last year, 77.6 million people visited our parks to hike, swim, picnic and learn more about our state. This brings $4.32 billion per year to the state through tourism.
Budget issues aside, our parks protect a huge array of wildlife including bald eagles, snowy plovers, valley quail, Redwood trees, and the California poppy--many of which are threatened or endangered.
Thirty years ago, California's state parks were the crown jewels of the state. But for years the government has been cutting them up for development and underfunding them. As a result, our parks are smaller and more polluted, and up to 100 were slated to close.
Governor Schwarzenegger will close far fewer than the 100 state parks his administration had previously planned, and he has dropped plans to release a list of targeted parks this month. Backing away from an issue that prompted growing criticism and threatened the Governor's environmental legacy, Schwarzenegger has asked the State Department of Finance to find other cuts in the state parks budget to minimize the number of parks closed.
It's time to stand up for our natural heritage: One in six acres of land in California is already paved. More and more, the next generation of Californian children are growing up without parks and other places to play and experience nature. We need to make sure that every child in California has a place to learn about nature.

Write, fax or email the governor's office to let them know you don't support
closing California state parks:

Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger
State Capitol Building
Sacramento, CA 95814
Fax: 916-558-3160

Reprinted from www.environmentcalifornia.org

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