There is a reason people stay in California despite the less than stellar state government, state of our public schools, and ridiculously high taxes and cost of living. Being from Texas, which boasts the opposite of everything I just mentioned, my family struggles to comprehend why we stay. I tell them that besides our friends and my husband’s family, it is California’s rich outdoor life that keeps us hanging on to our California dream. I argue it is unmatched anywhere in the country.
We have the greatest state park system in the United States, an incredible source of pride and enjoyment for Californians. Tragically and as a direct result of Governor Jerry Brown’s budget cuts, 70 state parks have been named for closure. I 100% understand cutting the budget, but not 25% of our state park system. In my opinion, we need to invest in our schools, police and fire, infrastructure, and fabulous park system. Most of the rest of it can go. And yes, as a frequent user of our park system, I am 100% willing to pay a fee to keep them open.
The closures include my own backyard, Henry Coe State Park, which is the second largest in the entire state park system and the largest in Northern California. Coe is nearly three times as large as the city of San Francisco, with 87,000 acres and 250 miles of trails. According to the San Jose Mercury News, if Brown’s plans take affect, he will be the first governor in the 106-year history of our park system to close parks in order to balance the budget. So much about our state sucks, please don’t screw with our parks.
For runners, hikers, campers, Scouts, schools and horseback riders, closing Henry Coe will be extremely sad. I recently ran, and won, the Hunting Hollow 10K at Henry Coe. It’s a fabulous little event that also includes a 5K. Combined, there were about 200 runners split almost 50/50 between the two events. The fact that I won was fun, but more meaningful was the presence of the Park Rangers who put on the event and the knowledge that proceeds support educational programs at the park, a park that may not be around next year.
Henry Coe is so beautiful and the race included something like 22 creek crossings (according to my friend, Lynn… can’t say I was counting). But we don’t just run the race. My trail running friends and I often do a kick-ass 10-mile route that includes the most breathtaking single-track ridge in our area.
I urge you to join the fight against the park closures. Get involved through the California State Parks Foundation and the Save Our State Parks Campaign. If you recall, former Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger had plans to cut 220 parks, plans he nixed after a citizen uprising of calls, emails, and letters.
With 120,000 members, the California State Parks Foundation (CSPF) is the only statewide independent nonprofit membership organization dedicated to protecting, enhancing and advocating for California’s magnificent state parks. CSPF is committed to improving the quality of life for all Californians by expanding access to the natural beauty, rich culture and history, and recreational and educational opportunities offered by California’s 278 state parks—the largest state park system in the United States. For more information about California’s state parks, visit calparks.org.
The Save Our State Parks (SOS) Campaign is a statewide, grassroots campaign to keep California’s magnificent state parks open. In partnership with organizations, businesses, local governments, and individuals around the state, the California State Parks Foundation is leading SOS Campaign activities and generating awareness and action about these unacceptable budget proposals. For more information visit:savestateparks.org.
Read more in this recent San Jose Mercury News article by Paul Rogers: At Henry W Coe State Park, news of proposed park closure hits home.