Initiative to 'Save' State Parks Qualifies for November Ballot
Malibu Creek State Park | Photo by magnetic lobster via LAist Featured Photos on Flickr
An initiative that will ask Californians to fully fund state parks via an annual fee on vehicle registrations qualified for the November ballot today. Fed up with budget cuts and a threat of closing 80% of all cuts in past years, environmentalists and park supporters joined forces to create the State Parks and Wildlife Conservation Trust Fund Act of 2010.
“Once considered to be among the best in the nation, California’s state parks now rank among the most endangered sites in the country,” said Elizabeth Goldstein, president of the California State Parks Foundation, one of the proposition's sponsors. “Budget cuts forced nearly 150 of the state’s 278 state parks to close or reduce services last year, and chronic underfunding is forcing the more than $1 billion maintenance backlog to continue to grow. This initiative will provide the stable and adequate source of funding needed to keep state parks open and contributing to our economy, the public’s health and education.”
If approved by voters, an $18 annual surcharge would be added to DMV car registrations. It would bring in an estimated $500 million that would more than fully fund state parks and would fund some other environmental programs, saving them from future threats of closures and cuts. In turn, vehicles with California license plates would be able to park for free at state parks and the $130 million the state uses to fund the park system would then be freed up to be used for other departments.
Although the state's 278 state parks bring in millions of tourists with $4.32 billion in expenditures annually, funding over the years have built a backlog of $1 billion in maintenance and repairs.
The full text of the initiative can be read here (.pdf).