Excellent suggestions have been pouring in (here’s the link to all comments on yesterday’s post), which has the salubrious effect of sparing me the trouble of having to think up good ideas of my own. So, thanks folks.

A post at the Los Angeles Times travel blog has a few quotes from a state parks spokeswoman who mentions an intriguing detail that’s maddeningly incomplete: some parks will have full closures and others will be only partial, but the list isn’t final. Thanks a heap. A few more thoughtful comments ensue, such as:

It sometimes seems that we only sit up to pay attention to State budgets when specific things that are important to us are threatened. To effectively deny access to public lands is a drastic measure but to propose leaving public lands and facilities under maintained and to give existing staff inadequate support and funds to do their jobs well is something that has been going on for quite a while without much public outcry.

No kidding. Meanwhile, back at home here, Randy L. summarized the rationale for keeping parks open even in tough budget times:

We need to convince the governor and other state officials that the parks are a far greater benefit than whatever revenue they thing they will save by closing them. In terms of value vs. cost, parks like Henry Coe are an unbeatable investment. For hard working taxpayers who endeavor to live a healthy lifestyle they are essential. They provide wholesome positive activity choices for young and old alike, and for families. They provide open space to enhance livability. They provide a place where wildlife can coexist without danger of encroachment from urban sprawl, and for nature to thrive to enhance the quality of the air.

Randy also mentions the the California State Parks Foundation’ Web page where you can e-mail your legislators, based on your address: ga3.org/campaign/KeepStateParksOpen

We can’t forget that that this cut-10-cents-on-every-dollar is essentially a stunt: A sane government doesn’t pull an arbitrary number and say “everybody gets cut by X no matter what.” (Dan Walters of the Sacramento Bee offers an excellent overview how our so-called leaders are dancing around the issue of raising taxes). The problem being: regardless of the political motivations, the proposal will become reality if nobody raises a ruckus. 4WheelBob summarized it well:

The other thing – try to offer a solution. It’s not enough to complain about cuts in a few programs. How, from a citizen’s point of view, can less hurtful cuts be instituted elsewhere? Believe me, there’s a lot of politicking and needless expense built into a state’s budget. Don’t mince words, either – if, like me, you consider the park system untouchable, let ‘em know this is an elect – or not – elect point as you peruse your ballot.

Politicians definitely respond to “I’m voting for your replacement if you let this happen.”

As for me, I feel a bit hamstrung because my job at the paper (the full-time one that pays the rent, not the hiking-columnist one that pays for gas) obliges me to stand aside and maintain observer status rather than participant. I’m not going to be the one organizing marches and shouting into bullhorns.

One thing I won’t shut up about, though, is the essential reality that nature — preserved in state parks and other means — is what keeps us alive, and that shirking our environmental obligations is slow suicide. I don’t see any point in compromising on what kind of planet we leave for our great-great-great grandchildren.