Saturday, May 30, 2009

Keep Your State Parks Open

Governor Schwarzenegger has proposed closing 80% of California state parks, including most of those in the Bay Area. This is estimated to save $143 million out of a $24 billion deficit, or half a percent. This strikes me as a very poor decision given the miniscule effect it would have on California's finances, and the large effect it would have on California's quality of life. Furthermore, it may end up costing the state more than it saves if it decreases tax revenues from tourism. Admittedly it's a tough decision to spend $143 million on parks rather than on health insurance for poor children, but ultimately $143 million is a drop in the bucket for the latter. To put this in perspective, $143 million is $4.35 per capita after removing the unemployed. I'd much prefer higher entry fees or taxes to outright closures, or he could parole ~3000 non-violent drug offenders instead.

This site makes it easy to contact your state representatives.

Closing these state parks means that gates would be padlocked, and parking and restrooms won't be available, though it will likely still be physically possible to enter. You can find a list of all 220 here. Here are a few of my photographs from the parks they are intending on closing.

Point Lobos

Big Basin

Prairie Creek Redwoods

Henry W. Coe

Sugarloaf Ridge

Pfeiffer Big Sur

Castle Rock

Moss Beach


Johannes said...

+1 to this and nice pictures!

I'm not holding my breath - I think it's just politics / rhetoric / drama and may work out just like last year. I looked around for some numbers to get an intuition for the size of California's travel / tourism industry - this is what I found: it's huge. Huge enough so that closing the parks may very well cause more damage to the state's tax revenues than 143 Million can save. It would be great to hear an economist's opinion on this one.

Marcia said...

In this economy, taxes to support the parks won't fly, but higher entry fees - users bear the costs - will. Years ago National Parks were all free. When they first instituted entrance fees, there was a lot of screaming that it's an American 'right' and no-one would ever pay to visit the Grand Canyon. How wrong that was.