Calif. Assembly Committee Meeting on Park Closures


By on Mon, September 21, 2009

I’d like to share an email I sent to Hon. Jared Huffman, Chair, Assembly Water, Parks & Wildlife Committee, California State Legislature. Mr. Huffman is conducting an "Informational Hearing on California’s State Parks: Strategies for Protecting Our State Parks in Challenging Times" in Sausalito tomorrow Sept.22 from 2 - 4 pm. For more information go to his website at

According to his website, this hearing will include updates from state and federal officials on the status of California’s proposed state park closures. The hearing will also examine short- and long-term ideas for supporting our state parks during difficult economic times, including opportunities for public/private partnerships, local involvement, and funding strategies.

My email to Mr. Huffman:

"Re: Costs of Closing State Parks

Dear Sir:

Closing of our state parks and beaches may be the most expensive attempt to save money in history. Our parks generate millions of dollars now, not just for the Park Service but for the surrounding communities. The issue of possible lawsuits for violated contracts is just one of many things (e.g., liability for personal injury and death in the absence of security and rescue personnel) that were overlooked in this closure plan—by the Legislature but not by the park-using public. My personal reaction is "Duh?"

The deterioration through weathering of closed park facilities and destruction by vandals is a no-brainer. Think of the cost of replacing ranger stations, historic structures (e.g., Pigeon Pt. Lighthouse) kiosks, restrooms, water
supplies, sewage systems, benches, grills and picnic tables when the parks reopen. The probable destruction to the park environment through illegal homeless camps and soon-to-be illegal family camping, uncollected garbage, illicit drug traffic and cultivation, unleashed dogs, horse traffic, motorized vehicles, graffiti, beach fires and forest fires is patently obvious. All such damage will have to be repaired, restored and paid for—at higher cost that we pay for maintenance now with the parks open.

In San Mateo County where I live, the CA State Parks have trained and sponsored volunteer programs to teach youngsters (and adults) about natural history of the parks and our state. Entire classrooms visit the parks for these lessons.

Volunteers have also been trained to work with non-profit organizations like the Audubon Society to protect threatened / endangered species such as the western snowy plover at Half Moon Bay State Beach and migratory birds stopping over at Pescadero Marsh. Records kept for years by the Park Service will be abandoned and scientific information lost forever. That too is a cost—none of this work will be done if the parks are closed and the volunteers dispersed.

Also costly will be the damage to federally protected species like the red-legged frog, San Francisco garter snake, migratory birds, elephant seals and other animals.  Several of the parks have programs for restoration of native
plants that have accomplished much to eliminate invasive imports; all of that will be lost and have to be renewed and funded again—if that is even possible.

I speak only for myself: I believe a fee on all automobile licenses dedicated to preserving all the state parks, guaranteeing free day-use to all license holders, is the only solution. And it needs to be implemented now—without closing any parks and destroying the assets we own as citizens of California. I think many, many citizens would agree with me.

Thank you for your attention. Please save our parks.

Suzanne Black
California State Parks Volunteer
Half Moon Bay, CA"

Nothing is ever simple in trying to communicate with politicians. The email I sent was sent back to me with a request to use his form. So I did. First attempt was rejected for length. Second and final attempt was rejected because I’m not a constituent of Marin/Sonoma counties.

There was another email address on his website, so I sent an email to her with a copy of my original email to Mr. Huffman, asking that she please forward it.

I think I understand what makes people stand up with signs and holler at politicians these days!

I hope my message reaches him—or some intelligent life in Sacto. Please let them know how you feel about the imminent closures.