A message from CSPF on the Department of Parks and Recreation scandal

It was with dismay that CSPF learned on Friday that an investigation found the Department of Parks and Recreation (DPR) has been hiding approximately $50 million in “surplus” funds for  the past 12 years.  As a long-standing partner to the parks system, CSPF is  shocked at the revelation that funds that could have been used to help a parks system in crisis were not being used to do so.  We are especially frustrated that this occurred at the same time CSPF and the parks community has been working diligently and against tremendous odds to help temporarily keep threatened parks open.

We are angry  on behalf of our members, our donors, our partners, and  on behalf of all Californians. We all have the right to expect honesty from the government systems that serve us and, in this case, DPR  let us all down.  We fully support the state Department of Finance’s proposed comprehensive audit of DPR.

As an independent, nonprofit organization, CSPF is committed to continuing our 43-year-old mission of protecting, enhancing, and advocating for our state parks.  Our parks still critically need our efforts in that regard, now more than ever.  The crisis that led to closures has not disappeared , even with the infusion of one-time funding from these sources. We hope the millions of funding that may be available to state parks be directed to assist with keeping parks open now and help support enterprise activities to generate ongoing revenue for parks.

We know it will be challenging in the days and weeks to come, but we remain committed to our state parks and to working to ensure they remain open, accessible and enjoyable to all Californians.

Sincerely,

Elizabeth Goldstein
President, CSPF

Guest Post: This State Park is Pure Gold

A guest post BY CSPF’S DAVID SLACK

David Slack is the Accounting Manager in the California State Parks Foundation’s San Francisco office. He fell in love with Plumas-Eureka after a visit this spring and is now frequently spotted wearing his Plumas-Eureka State Park Foundation shirt around the office.  This is his take on his new favorite park.

I recently found myself at the Plumas-Eureka State Park for my second and third visit this summer.

Gary (left) and David (right)

For the past several years I have been spending more time in the Greaegle/Portola area of the Tahoe Mountains, and when I saw the Plumas-Eureka State Park was on the state parks closure list, I thought I should check it out before it was too late.

Our first visit to the Plumas-Eureka State Park was around Memorial Day this year, when we had company visiting. We intended to see more of the park, but once we arrived at the museum we were so fascinated with the history of the formation of the surrounding mountains, as well as the exhibits, stories and photos of the Gold Miners who flocked to this area in the mid-1800s to try to strike it rich, we spent several hours just around the museum itself.

The main museum has a variety of displays focused on the local animals, rocks and minerals, as well as the gold mining that made many a man rich for their efforts.

There is a mining machinery display, a mill and a blacksmith shop, as well as photos and stories of life in the 1840s and 1850s in this area near Johnsonville, CA.

Mining machinery at Plumas-Eureka

It’s free to visit the park and the museum for a day, however, if you’d like to stay at one of the 67 campsites, there is a nominal charge for that. You can even go gold panning for a day for $4.

The following week we had different company, and brought them to the museum to share what we’d found, where we began speaking with Pat O’Reilly, an interpreter with the park. He said he was leading a hike the next day, and we made plans to go along.

The next day Pat led us along the Eureka Peak Trail Loop. It was a bit over 1.5 miles, and we saw Mountain Quail, White Headed Woodpeckers and Olive Sided Flycatchers.

He also pointed out Lodgepole Pines, Western White Pines, Scolars willows, and huge sugar pine cones. The Lake itself was so still and quite. What a sight.

Once we were back at the museum, we stared speaking with one of the Docents, and we were happy to learn that the Plumas-Eureka State Park Foundation was attempting to raise enough monies to keep the park open for another year. After such a fun time, I had to join the Association.

Jamison Creek

On our way out of the park, we found another picnic area on Jamison Creek, where the water was crystal clear, and cold as ice. We couldn’t help but kicking off our shoes and dipping our feet in.

What a fun trip.

Have you been to Plumas-Eureka State Park?

State Park Closure Update

Año Nuevo State Park (c) Charles Tu

The outlook for California state parks took a positive turn last week after some budget action in Sacramento.  On Wednesday evening, Gov. Brown signed the FY 2012-13 Budget with a little added funding for state parks.  The budget does not “save” state parks. However, the budget does preserve some of the additional funding for state parks that the Legislature proposed in the final budget.

The breakdown:

(1)    The governor approved redirecting $13 million from existing unspent Prop 84 funds to a new State Park Enterprise Fund that can be only used for capital projects intended to generate new revenue for state parks, or to help them improve fee collection.  Note: this is not new money; it was already in DPR’s budget.

(2)    The governor approved $3 million from the Alternative and Renewable Fuel and Vehicle Technology Fund and $7 million from the Motor Vehicle Fuel Account that can be used for state park operations.

(3)    The governor did veto some pieces of the Sustainable Parks Proposal, including $7 million of the originally proposed $10 million fund transfer from the Alternative and Renewable Fuel and Vehicle Technology Fund to State Parks, and the transfer of $10 million from the Clean Water State Revolving Fund to State Parks.

We are pleased to see the funding for the State Park Enterprise Fund included in this budget, and we support efforts to identify new opportunities for DPR to generate revenues and more efficiently collect user fees. However, this funding is another temporary solution. State parks continue to face a budget crisis resulting in service reductions and unprecedented closures. In other words, we are not out of the woods yet.

Grizzly Creek Redwoods State Park (c) Mike Shoys