State parks on the chopping block!

June 4, 2009

Tell Schwarzenegger parks are off limits in budget crisis.

Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger has proposed cutting some $70 million in state funding from the California State Parks budget this year, and another $143 million in 2010.

The consequences could include the closure of 220 of the state’s parks after Labor Day, 2009, with service cut-backs and steep fee hikes at most of the remainder.

The situation is exacerbated by the fact that state parks have endured years of chronic underfunding and deferred maintenance.

Cutting the entire General Fund allocation for state parks would have the effect of closing virtually the entire state park system.

Schwarzenegger’s action will shut the gates to millions of Californians who rely on state parks for outdoor recreation and vacations. Moreover it will drain much-needed tourism revenue from the state’s coffers, and undermine millions of dollars already invested in our state parks – whether public dollars or gifts and philanthropic support.


Contact Schwarzenegger and your state legislators and let them know the California State Park system should be off-limits for budget cutting. The parks protect irreplaceable ecological habitats, serve as invaluable sources of tourist revenue for hard-hit local economies, and provide inexpensive solace and recreation for recession-battered Californians.

Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger
State Capitol Building
Sacramento, CA 95814
Phone: 916-445-2841
Fax: 916-558-3160 ( new number )
Contact him online.

Also contact your state Senator and Assemblymember. To locate your representatives, visit the websites for the California State Senate and the California State Assembly.



Last year alone, state parks received more than 80 million visitors – and all indications are that the number this year was going to be even higher.

State parks account for less than one tenth of one percent of the entire state budget, yet they return great benefits to local economies. For every dollar that funds the parks, $2.35 is returned to the state's General Fund through economic activity 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.

The state park system is an investment that the governor and the legislature have been entrusted with safeguarding. We are all, today, beneficiaries of the work of leaders, activists, and park supporters who had the vision – decades before us – to identify and preserve places that are part of California’s unique natural legacy. That legacy is one that has been protected by volunteers, philanthropists, park visitors, voters, and all Californians who support their parks. It is not a legacy that a governor should undo.

This is exactly the wrong time to be proposing to eliminate the state’s core commitment to this world-class resource.

Slated for closure (partial list):

Admiral William Standley State Recreation Area
North of Willits, this SRA (state recreation area) features redwoods and is a popular spot for salmon and steelhead fishing. The area is also a favorite place for hikers and picnickers.

Ahjumawi Lava Springs SP
A wilderness area of exceptional, even primeval, beauty just north of Lassen National Forest, this park is characterized by extremely rugged lava rock. Oak, pine, juniper forests and slopes of rabbit brush and sagebrush are part of the area’s great variety of vegetation.

Año Nuevo SP
Año Nuevo State Park on the western slope of the central Coast Range contains old-growth forest, freshwater marsh, red alder riparian forest and knobcone pine forest. Its four perennial streams support steelhead trout and coho salmon, and its wetlands are habitat to the rare San Francisco garter snake and the threatened red-legged frog. A large colony of northern elephant seals assembles on the shoreline each winter.

Armstrong Redwoods State Natural Reserve
Just north of Guerneville, this SNR (state natural reserve) is a living reminder of the magnificent primeval redwood forest that covered much of this area before logging operations began during the 19th century.

Arthur B. Ripley Desert Woodland SP
Located in the Mojave Desert region south of Tehachapi and north of Angeles National Forest, this park preserves remnants of the Joshua Trees and juniper that once grew in great abundance throughout Antelope Valley.

Austin Creek SRA
Adjacent to Armstrong Redwoods SNR, Austin Creek SRA offers 20 miles of trails through grasslands, chaparral, conifer, oak woodland, and riparian habitats.

Big Basin Redwoods SP
Established in 1902 in the Santa Cruz Mountains, Big Basin Redwoods SP consists of more than 18,000 acres of old-growth and recovering redwood forest, with mixed conifer, oaks, chaparral, and riparian habitats.

Bodie State Historic Park
A genuine gold-mining ghost town in the hills north of Mono Lake, preserved in a state of "arrested decay,” Bodie draws flocks of tourists year-round to this remote corner of California. The buildings in this eerily barren landscape were constructed from Jeffrey pines that once flourished here before being heavily logged during Bodie’s heyday.

Butano SP
A secluded redwood-filled canyon on the San Mateo Coast.

Calaveras Big Trees SP
Established in 1931, this park preserves the North Grove of giant sequoias, including the "Discovery Tree,” the first Sierra redwood noted by Augustus T. Dowd in 1852. The park has been a major tourist attraction ever since, and is considered the longest continuously operated tourist facility in California.

Castle Crags SP
Named for 6,000-foot tall glacier-polished crags, the park offers 28 miles of hiking trails, including a 2.7-mile access trail to Castle Crags Wilderness, part of the Shasta-Trinity National Forest. The Pacific Crest Trail also passes through the park.

Castle Rock SP
Along the crest of the Santa Cruz Mountains, Castle Rock SP includes coast redwood, Douglas-fir, and madrone forest, most of which has been left in its wild, natural state. The lush, mossy forest is crisscrossed by 32 miles of hiking and horseback-riding trails.

China Camp SP
A natural watershed along the shores of San Francisco Bay, China Camp is an extremely popular destination in summer for wildlife watching, mountain biking, hiking, swimming, boating and windsurfing. Park features include an extensive intertidal salt marsh, meadow and oak habitats.

Eastshore SP
The park includes rich tidal marshes, sub-tidal areas, and mudflats along 8.5 miles of shoreline of the San Francisco Bay.

Henry W. Coe SP
Located east of Morgan Hill in Santa Clara County, the terrain of this huge park is rugged, varied and beautiful, with lofty ridges and steep canyons. It encompasses the headwaters of Coyote Creek, long stretches of Pacheco and Orestimba creeks and a state wilderness area.

Henry Cowell Redwoods SP
Home to a centuries old redwood grove, this park in the Santa Cruz Mountains features some 20 miles of hiking and riding trails. It also boasts other old-growth woods such as Douglas fir, madrone, oak and Ponderosa pines.

Humboldt Redwoods SP
This spectacular area south of Eureka encompasses nearly 53,000 acres, including some 100 miles of trails and 250 family campsites. The park protects the world’s largest virgin redwood grove, the Rockefeller Forest, with 10,000 acres of wild terrain including the entire Bull Creek watershed. The forest harbors osprey, spotted owls and abundant other wildlife.

Mount Diablo SP
One of the ecological treasures of the San Francisco Bay Area, this park offers an oak, grassland, and chaparral-covered terrain with lush springtime wildflowers, an extensive trail system, diverse wildlife, and distinctive rock formations. The sweeping view from its 3,849-foot summit looks east across California’s Central Valley and west to the Farallon Islands.

Mount Tamalpais SP
Just north of San Francisco's Golden Gate, Mount Tam is renowned for its redwood groves and oak woodlands, trail system, and spectacular views from its 2,571-foot peak.

Samuel P. Taylor SP
Situated in the steep rolling hills of west Marin County, this park features a unique contrast of coast redwood groves and open grassland, along with oak, tanoak, madrone, live oak, laurel and Douglas fir.

Tomales Bay SP
Forty miles north of the Golden Gate Bridge, this is an area of sheltered coves, beaches, tidal marshes, as well as one of the finest remaining virgin groves of Bishop pine in California.

Ward Creek
The Ward Creek property, in Placer County, preserves and protects an area of undeveloped upland forest and meadowland south of Ward Creek, located on the west side of the Lake Tahoe Basin.



Now available from Forests Forever Foundation and the Center for American Places: Forests Forever: Their Ecology, Restoration and Protection. This important new book by John J. Berger moves from calm discussions of forest ecology to the turbulent politics of forest management. It features 300-plus pages of beautifully crafted text and images, including color and black-and-white photographs by some of the most respected names in nature photography.

Forests Forever is being distributed by the University of Chicago Press and is available in softcover ($33.50 including shipping) and hardcover ($55.50 including shipping). Orders can be placed online at the Forests Forever website:


Forests Forever:
Their Ecology, Restoration, and Protection
John J. Berger

from Forests Forever Foundation
and the Center for American Places