Tuesday, December 15, 2009
The Most Popular State Parks are Along the Coastline--Help Protect Them!
For those of you who follow California politics and the Governor's agenda, you still might be cringing from the threat to close 80% of our State Parks and Beaches. While that death sentence didn't fully come to fruition, California Parks and Beaches are facing some closures and major cutbacks-- and it will become painfully obvious next spring and summer when people show up to State Parks and realize lifeguard numbers are drastically down, Park amenities (bathroom, kiosks, etc) are in shabby-shape, and a few Parks have padlocks around the gates. (Photo: DestinationCoupons.com) The current 'State of our State Parks' can be described like this:
Our friends at the California State Parks Foundation are spearheading a statewide ballot measure, slated for November 2010, which would create a stable source of funding for the state park system, wildlife conservation, and to provide increased and equitable access to those resources for all Californians. Funding would come from an annual "State Park Access Pass" surcharge of $18 per vehicle. The surcharge would apply to California vehicles and they would receive free day-use admission throughout the year. Voters need to approve the measure. The Surfrider Foundation Headquarters has singed on as an official supporter of this effort because we believe our State Parks need protection (see below for more info). If you would like to learn more about the State Park Access Pass and how you can gather signatures to qualify it for the ballot please visit here.
Why Surfrider Wants Park Protection:
- State Beaches are the most visited parks within the California State Park system.
- 8 of the top 10 most popular parks are State Beaches.
- California has over 320 miles of beachfront State Parks. That's almost 30% of our State coastline!
- State beaches and coastal park units encompass half of the total coastal land in California open to the public.
- There are 278 (classified and unclassified) park units in California. 125 of those units are located on the coast. (Parks and Recreation Department, 2008)
- Clearly, our State Beaches occupy a large portion of the coastline, they are extremely popular, and they need protecting.
Every year, millions of people visit State Parks and spend money in local economies. A study prepared in 2002 for the Parks and Recreation Department concluded that $2.6 billion was generated by visitor spending in local communities.
* Example of State Beaches that stimulate local economies:
- A study by California Polytechnic University found that visitors to Morro Bay State Park added $15 million to the local economy over two years. The visitors expenditures were responsible for 364 jobs in Morro Bay primarily in recreation, amusement, hotels, restaurants, and retail shops.
- UCLA researchers have found that surfers attracted to Trestles generate millions of dollars for the local economy by spending money at restaurants, local shops, gas stations, rentals and other beach-related items.
- A major tenet of the Surfrider Foundation is to promote the right of low-impact, free, and open access to the world's waves and beaches for all people.
- The proposed State Park Access Pass is an ideal way to lift current economic barriers in place by eliminating costly, daily beach fees (which are members pay regularly).
- The Surfrider Foundation believes State Parks need to be protected and properly funded to ensure universal access to State beaches.
- San Onofre draws in more than 2.5 million people annually and is the 6th most visited State Park.
- The San Mateo Watershed, also within San Onofre, is one of the last undeveloped watersheds in California and feeds clean water to Trestles Beach.
- If the toll road were constructed, it would have sent send polluted runoff into both San Mateo Creek and Trestles Beach.
- The toll road would have reduced access to surrounding surf breaks.