Possible Closure of Point Lobos, CA State Park

S. Point Lobos by D. Kutz

This is a topic I feel passionately about, both because I’m on the board of the Point Lobos Association, and because I’ve been diving at Point Lobos since 1993. It is arguably one of the best places to dive in California (if not the world?), and the site of much marine research (it was the US’s first underwater reserve). This may end soon if the state of California closes down 220 state parks. Because of this seriousness of this problem, I have decided to depart from what I generally post here, and pubish a letter written by Point Lobos Association President Judd Perry to our members.
If you’d like to become a member and help us preserve Point Lobos, please join by clicking here. — Dida Kutz
Dear PLA Member:
I am taking this unusual step of contacting you by email because the fate of the California State Park System hangs in the balance. The Joint Budget Committee of the legislature has determined that, to help close the budget deficit, 220 State Parks will be closed after Labor Day, 2009. However, the Committee is proposing an alternative which, if adopted by both houses of the legislature and signed by the Governor, would save all of these parks from closure. It is called the State Parks Access Pass (SPAP) which, if adopted, would give every automobile licensed in the State of California FREE ACCESS to all of our State Parks on an unlimited basis. The cost of the SPAP would be $15 annually, per car.
Passage of the SPAP is now the only alternative left to the legislature, other than closing 80% of all State Parks. In Monterey County, only one park – Asilomar State Beach – would remain open.
The decision to close the State Parks System makes no sense on any level: economic, operational or political. While we are all aware of the terrible economic condition in which the State of California finds itself, closing virtually the entire State Parks System would save only about 0.01% of the total State budget. Furthermore, a California State University, Sacramento study shows that State Park visitors contribute about $4.2 billion to the California economy, most of which would be lost if there is a closure of the State Parks System.
Operationally, thousands of trained Park Rangers and other personnel will be laid off. If the closure were to last for even a year, many of these people will no longer be available when the parks reopen. That means a massive recruitment and training effort to populate the parks with personnel. In addition, the thousands of volunteers who now contribute hundreds of thousands of hours to the Parks will have largely vanished, as these volunteers go on to other interests.
Lastly, once closed, and without the presence of Park Rangers, the natural and cultural resources of our parks will be at dire risk, subject to being vandalized and destroyed by people who will surely use and abuse them, if left unsupervised. The risk of a major forest fire from unregulated use will increase dramatically, as will the loss of life on beaches without lifeguards, and the cost of only one major fire would dwarf the amount sought to be saved by the closings. Furthermore, once closed, the trails and other facilities left untended will deteriorate very rapidly, making it much more expensive (and perhaps impossible) to re-open a park.
Point Lobos Reserve and all of the other State Parks, Beaches and Reserves belong to the public, and it is up to the public to stop this political insanity. Time is very short for you to make our voice heard. Supporting the SPAP is our last hope for saving the State Park System from the worst catastrophe it has ever faced.
Please contact your local State Assembly Representative, State Senator and Governor Schwartzenegger to demand that the SPAP legislation be passed, allowing all of our State Parks, Beaches and Reserves to remain open and fully functioning. The most effective communication is a phone call, postal mail or FAX, but email is better than no contact at all. You can determine your local legislators by going here and typing in your ZIP code. Contact information for the Governor’s office can be found here . Contact information is also available in the front portion of your telephone book. To make your voice heard by email, go to Cal Parks Foundation and click the “Take Action” button.
Thank you. I hope to see you at Point Lobos Reserve for many years to come.
George Perry
President, Point Lobos Association