The closing of the California state park system, which is now likely, will signal a significant decline in the quality of life in the Golden State.
Every day the extent of the California financial crisis becomes more documented and apparent. Critical health services for thousands of people will be cut off. The education system, already funded at one of the lowest state levels in the country, will be further decimated.
Tax revenue is falling. Californians have also mandated, with Prop 13, that 2/3rd of legislators must agree before there is any budget OK or raising of taxes. It is nearly impossible to get the 2/3rds agreement.
Closing the state parks will have a devastating effect on travel in California.
One of the ironies in the anticipated state parks closure is the argument that state parks actually generate more tax revenue than they cost to run. That’s because every B&B and restaurant near a state park pays taxes if it has patrons. An astute observer of these nuances, John Poimiroo, a former Commerce Secretary to a governor and a lifelong student of the state park system, has sent out a communication estimating that closing the state parks will save about $149 million, but lose about $350 million in taxes, resulting in a net loss of $201 million.
California’s state parks are arguably the premier state park system in the nation.
The parks bring joy to countless visitors. Their diversity is astonishing.
They are one of my favorite subjects of reportage.
Anza Borrego Desert State Park is the largest, located in a pristine desert area east of San Diego. Wander out to Font’s Point, named after an early explorer, and you can commune with yourself in the loftiest desert tradition. The photo is of Font’s Point, a place offering solitude, a treat in populous Southern California. See my article on Anza Borrego at
Interest in the California state parks is not a parochial matter. Reportages such as this are of national interest. This article of mine ran in Travel + Leisure.
Angel Island, in San Francisco Bay, is another outstanding state park. It is now the home of a refurbished Immigration Station, which testifies to the manner in which many Asians came into America. A huge investment has been made in bringing forth this story at a site that is truly an Ellis Island West. Angel Island also is a place of innovation in travel. You can take a Segway tour around the island. See my coverage at
MacKerricher Park is a joy along the Mendocino Coast. This is a good example of a remote park whose surrounding community will be devastated by a state park closure. The restaurants and B&B lodgings of Fort Bragg and Mendocino are highly dependent on the birders, hikers, bicyclists, and general nature lovers who peruse MacKerricher Park. I recently refreshed myself on this wonderful travel resource and reported on it. See the writeup at
Crunch time is coming in the California financial crisis. As a citizen, though I love travel, I would be hard pressed to recommend that people with life-threatening medical conditions be cut off from support in favor of keeping the state parks open. However, possibly the estimation that the state parks generate more tax revenue than they cost will be considered. The need to balance the budget may be absolute, and no good choices are apparent.