Hey Sacramento, We Mean Business

On Tuesday, we took to the streets of Sacramento to protest the closure of 70 state parks with a march and rally at the Capitol. Our rally cry? “Closing parks is bad for business.” We think we got the message across.

The rally event had three goals, and we accomplished what we set out to do.

Goal 1: Bring attention to the park closure issues.
Check: Lots of enthusiastic advocates joined us for the march and rally. They also helped deliver over 100 oversized postcards and thousands of petitions to the governor’s office.  Check out this video by Folk4Parks of the big drop, including our own Traci Verardo Torres telling Brown’s aides why this is such an important issue. They literally had to use a cart to move all of the petitions we brought in!  Side note: is that Gov. Brown walking into his office at 1:33? It’s hard to tell; he’s incognito.

Goal 2:
Kick off our new ‘Closing Parks is Bad for Business Campaign,’ which will publicize the negative impacts park closures will have on California’s fragile economy.
Double Check:
Several business leaders spoke to the rally crowd about how park closures impact their businesses, clientele and communities, including: John Severini, president/CEO of California Travel Association (CalTravel), Christina Strawbridge, owner of Christina S Fashion Destination in downtown Benicia, Christopher Grant Ward of Folk4Parks, and Kevin Murphy, general manager of Sports Leisure Vacations.

Goal 3: Get advocates to attend and testify at the joint legislative hearing of the Assembly Water, Parks and Wildlife and the Assembly Committee for Accountability & Administrative Review.
We certainly made an impression, as park advocates not only filled the hearing room, but spilled out into the hallway. If you weren’t able to be there, good news, you can watch the video on demand on the California Channel. Fair warning, it’s a three-part series (there was a lot to talk about!), so better make some popcorn for this trilogy.

Part I: Impact and Status of State Park Closures
Part II: Impact and Status of State Park Closures
Part III: Impact and Status of State Park Closures

Will closed parks be bad for your business? Let us know in the comments.

When are parks closing?

One of the problems with the plan to close state parks is that it is a different process for each of the 70 parks on the list. That means the date that each one will close is different. Unfortunately, there is no easy way to find out when each one will close. That’s frustrating, isn’t it?!

So we’ve slowly started the process of tracking the status of the 70 parks. No full closures have happened yet (though McGrath and Henry W. Coe both narrowly avoided it at the last minute). However, service reductions and partial closures keep getting worse and they are impacting parks on the closure list. Here are a couple examples of service reduction information that is available on the state’s official website:

Until further notice these parks will contain areas where services are reduced or eliminated due to the fiscal crisis.

  • Samuel P. Taylor State Park
    Beginning Sept. 5, 2011, family campsites will operate on a first-come, first-served basis ONLY until further notice. All group campsites at Devil’s Gulch and Madrone and Irving Group Picnic will be closed completely until further notice.

    This camping scene at Russian Gulch State Park is no longer. Photo © Carolyne Cathey.

  • Russian Gulch State Park
    Day use will remain open during the winter, but Russian Gulch campground is now closed until further notice.
  • Point Cabrillo Light Station State Historic Park
    Trash removal reduction; “Pack it in, Pack it out” signs posted. Closure of flush restrooms at Visitor Center; portable toilet installed at Visitor Center. Park office closed; heat set to 55 degrees to protect artifacts and exhibits.
  • Brannan Island State Recreation Area
    Closed Tuesdays through Thursdays. Camping unavailable on Monday through Thursday nights. Day Use open Friday through Monday. Visitor Center is now closed.

These are just a few examples. There will be more to report on, and we will be sure to do that. But you are all out visiting parks every day. What are you seeing and hearing out in the parks? What’s being posted in your local state park, regardless if it is on the list or not? Please post your own report in the comments. (If you have a photo to share, please post it to our Facebook page.)

It's Magnificent.

While on the one hand we are doing this sad information gathering, on the other we are finding ways to celebrate the 70 parks and tell their stories before it’s too late. That is why we created this new website, The Magnificent 70. If you haven’t had a chance to look at it yet, you should! There are gorgeous photos from all 70 parks, and as you scroll through the photos, you can also read unique stories about each park.

Here’s to keeping our eyes and ears on the parks.