This article from Capitol Weekly lays out the original proposal. Among the key facts:

  • Budget cuts would save $13.3 million — about a dollar for every family in California.
  • Closures would shut out an estimated 6.5 million of 79 million annual park visitors — the largest state park attendance in the nation.
  • The California Parks Foundation has 90,000 members.

Divide 90,000 members into $13.3 million and you get $147 and change. If every member of the Parks Foundation passed the hat among their family, friends and neighbors and thew in $100 of their own, the shortfall goes away.

What that tells me: if everybody who uses California parks regularly gets busy, gets generous with their time and thinks creatively, we could make a huge dent in the parks funding crisis.

Another interesting link at the Parks Foundation’s site: Henry Coe State Park tallies 34,395 visits a year and takes in $67,344 (less than $2 per visitor — good thing so many people are car-pooling, eh?); at Portola Redwoods, it’s 36,277 visitors and $161,136 in revenue (they get a lot more campers there).

Should we get ourselves worked up over parks that get fewer than 100 visitors a day? Absolutely: as soon as the visit count goes to zero, it’ll be far too easy for the state to succumb to the temptation to start eating its seed corn by selling public lands to raise cash.

The key will be to create partnerships between the state parks authorities and the private organizations that already support the state parks. It doesn’t have to be cash, it could be in-kind contributions of expertise. Whatever it is, it has to keep the parks in the hands of the public.