California State Parks: Wildlife Conservation Trust Fund Act of 2010
Monday, December 14, 2009
SIERRA CLUB CALIFORNIA ENDORSES 2010 PARKS INITIATIVE
Sierra Club California today endorsed the State Parks and Wildlife Conservation Trust Fund Act of 2010, a proposed statewide initiative slated for the November 2010 ballot, that would provide a stable, reliable and adequate source of funding to protect state parks and conserve wildlife.
“With our state parks facing an insurmountable funding crisis and irreparable damage, it is essential we provide our parks with a sustainable and reliable funding stream,” said Jim Metropulos, Senior Advocate of Sierra Club California. “For years California’s 278 state parks have been an integral public asset that residents and visitors alike enjoyed, and it is imperative we maintain these priceless assets for our children and future generations.”
The State Parks and Wildlife Conservation Trust Fund Act of 2010 would ensure a dedicated and reliable funding stream for state parks through an $18 annual State Park Access Pass surcharge and, in return, would provide vehicles subject to the surcharge free, year-round admission to state parks.
From the vast stretches of sandy beaches along California’s magnificent coastline to the towering redwoods and much‐needed recreational areas in the state’s bustling urban centers, California’s 278 state parks are priceless public assets and a vital legacy for our children and grandchildren. But the state’s parks are in peril. Budget cuts are starving state parks, causing them to fall severely behind in needed maintenance and repairs. Twice in the past two years, state parks were on the brink of being shutdown. Only last‐minute budget reprieves kept them open. But nearly 60 state parks will be shut down part‐time or their hours of operation reduced because of this year’s budget cuts, and more park closure proposals and budget cuts are expected next year. That is why a statewide ballot measure, slated for November 2010, has been prepared that would create the State Parks and Wildlife Conservation Trust Fund. The fund would provide a stable, reliable and adequate source of funding for the state park system, for wildlife conservation and for increased and equitable access to those resources for all Californians.
It is with great hope that we report that a significant step towards sustainability for our State Parks was taken this week by the California State Parks Foundation and partners. On November 3rd a proposed statewide ballot measure was filed with the Attorney General’s office. The “California State Parks and Wildlife Conservation Trust Fund Act of 2010, would create a stable, reliable and adequate source of funding to protect state parks and conserve California wildlife.”
From the California State Park Foundation’s website:
* The State Parks and Wildlife Conservation Trust Fund (“Trust Fund”) revenues could only be spent on state parks, wildlife, natural lands and ocean conservation programs.
* The Trust Fund would be funded by an $18 annual State Park Access Pass surcharge on all California cars, motorcycles and recreational vehicles that would be collected by the Department of Motor Vehicles as part of the annual vehicle license fee. Larger commercial vehicles (those subject to the Commercial Vehicle Registration Act), mobile homes and permanent trailers would be exempt.
* Vehicles subject to the surcharge and all occupants of those vehicles would have free day use admission to all state parks throughout the year.
* Trust Fund revenues would amount to approximately $500 million each year (based on about 28 million registered vehicles) and 85% would be allocated to state parks and 15% to other state wildlife and ocean protection agencies.
* With a new dedicated revenue stream in place, approximately $130 million of General Fund dollars, that provide a portion of overall state parks funding, would now be available for other vital needs, like schools, health care, social services or public safety.
* The Trust Fund would be subject to an independent audit by the State Auditor and a Citizens’ Oversight Committee would be created to ensure funds are spent appropriately. Audit, oversight and administrative costs of this measure would be limited to 1% of the annual revenues. http://www.stewardsofthecoastandredwoods.org/news/2009/news20091106.htm