http://danvillesanramon.com/print/story/print/2009/06/05/mount-diablo-on-list-of-endangered-state-parks


Danville Express

Newsfront - June 5, 2009

Mount Diablo on list of endangered state parks

Letters to governor protest drastic measure

by Dolores Fox Ciardelli

Park lovers sprang into action May 28 when Gov. Schwarzenegger released a list of 220 state parks he was proposing to close, out of 279 total. The list has 43 parks in the Bay Area, including Mount Diablo.

The next day, Save Mount Diablo and other environmentalist groups sent out alerts to their members.

"As of Sunday, the governor and the legislators had received over 25,000 letters and I'm sure it's probably doubled since then," said Seth Adams, director of Land Programs for Save Mount Diablo, on Tuesday. "I know at least 2,000 letters came from around Mount Diablo."

A public hearing was held Tuesday, and more will continue throughout the month.

The California State Parks Foundation has a complete list of threatened parks, a map showing their locations, and a link to write to the governor and legislators at ga3.org/campaign/budget_may09.

"I think that we're in the worst situation we've ever been in and that flooding them with mail will make a difference," said Adams. "The real threat isn't just closing the parks, it's losing 2,000 staff members and rangers. They were cut to the bone already."

The proposal, part of Schwarzenegger's May revision for the 2009-10 budget announced last week, would eliminate all $143.4 million of the state's general fund contributions to the state park system. The parks would lose $70 million in the 2009-2010 budget, and the remaining $73.4 million in the 2010-11 budget.

The loss in funding would cause the closure of up to 223 state parks, or about 80 percent of all state parks in California, according to California State Parks spokesman Roy Stearns.

"Basically that eliminates salaries for people, and if you eliminate people and jobs, you eliminate the people that run the parks, so you must then close them because there's nobody there to operate them," Stearns said May 28.

The elimination of the money for state parks is only .62 percent of California's budget shortfall of $24.3 billion, according to Jerry Emory, spokesman of the California State Parks Foundation. He said the cuts could even end up adding to the deficit. According to a study by California State Parks and UC Berkeley, every dollar that funds state parks returns $2.35 to the general fund through economic activities in the communities around the parks, as well as purchases made inside the parks.

Stearns said "that argument has been made in the past, but I don't know if that helps battle the argument against how to close the deficit."

Emory said Thursday that the governor also proposed state park cuts last year that were small compared to this year's proposal, yet those cuts were not adopted due to the negative response it received.

Lisa Page, a spokeswoman for the governor, said that the size of the deficit this year, as well as the rejection of the May 19 propositions in the state's special election, leaves no good options.

Bay City News contributed to this story

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