California Riding Magazine • July, 2008

Access Pass
New proposal to save California
state parks seeks equestrian support.

Trail riding enthusiasts were justifiably mortified earlier this year when the closure of 48 state parks was proposed as a means of helping close California’s budget deficit. That threat has been stayed for now, but a long-term solution for funding the state’s wonderful parks is essential to their survival. Toward that end, the California State Park Foundation is urging citizens to support the State Park Access Pass program, proposed on May 28 by Assembly member John Laird (D-Santa Cruz).

The proposed program would generate more than $280 million a year for state parks, through a $10 surcharge on annual vehicle registrations. In return for that annual support for the state park system, Californians will receive free day-use access to California’s state parks.

“This is a solution that is long overdue,” says the Foundation’s website of the Access Pass. “California’s state park system tells of the history and culture of our state, protects unique natural resources that are irreplaceable, provides unparalleled access to recreational opportunities and represents a promise for the future.  Unfortunately, lack of adequate funding has meant that those promises haven’t been kept.”

The Foundation describes the $10 annual fee for virtually unlimited access to the state park system as a bargain for Californians. “In addition to getting personal benefits, Californians will be making an important and necessary investment in the health of the system, for now and forever.” 

Activism Made Easy

Equestrians are encouraged the voice their support for the Access Pass and the Foundation’s website, www.savestateparks.org, makes this super easy. The Action page on the site enables visitors to send a ready-made or edited letter of support to their local representatives.

The pre-written letter follows:

“I am writing to express my strong support for the California State Park Access Pass and to urge your support for the proposal as it advances in the budget process. Earlier this year, Californians faced the threat of closing 48 state parks and taking lifeguards off 16 popular state beaches. While state parks may not be on that particular chopping block for the rest of the budget negotiations, simply keeping the doors open to our state parks is truly the least we can do. It’s time to support realistic, sustainable solutions to our state parks funding crisis. The California State Park Access Pass will help remedy an unacceptable situation that has been allowed to happen in our state park system for too long. By asking Californians to make a modest, $10 annual investment in our state park system, the State Park Annual Pass gives state residents two-fold benefits: (1) they receive free access to our state parks, and (2) they contribute to the improvement and betterment of California’s world-class state park system. Just last month, the National Trust for Historic Preservation listed California’s state park system as ‘endangered.’ This listing is a wake-up call for Californians and our political leaders to find a solution that keeps our parks open, keeps them available to help generate critical local economic activity, and keeps them accessible for future generations.”

For more information visit the California State Parks Foundation’s www.savestateparks.org.