More money, more problems

As we reported a few weeks ago, it was discovered and publicly disclosed that the Department of Parks and Recreation (DPR) had been hiding approximately $54 million in surplus funds for the past 12 years.  The parks community was shocked, surprised and angry to discover this news.  Why have we fought so hard against park closures and budget cuts when there was more money available to DPR?

Sonoma Coast State Beach. Photo by Mike Ryan.

Now that the dust has settled a little and audits are underway, it is clear to us the money that was “discovered” may or may not be used for its intended purpose: for the maintenance of our state parks.  It is up to the Legislature where that money should go, a decision they must make in the next 9 days before the legislative session ends for the year.

We are lobbying the Legislature to allocate the recently-identified $20.3 million in funding from the State Parks and Recreation Fund (SPRF) for use in state parks.  SPRF money comes from state park fees for day-use admission or parking, overnight camping or boating, and more.  We are concerned that the SPRF money is becoming a tempting target for budget raiding. After more than 14 months of tremendous work in communities around the state to keep our parks open, it would only add insult to injury for the Legislature to put those funds elsewhere or, even worse, claim to put them into state parks but simply reduce the park system’s General Fund allocation at the same time.

That said, we are asking for help in urging legislators to maintain access and support for California’s state parks by directing the recently-identified and unspent state park funds back into the state park system. Please join more than 3,000 park advocates who have already take action and use our online system to send a message to your legislators and the governor urging them to allocate these funds back into our state park system.

Your action is extremely important, as policymakers are expected to make a decision in the next week about how to allocate this funding.

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