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Director Says Public Funding Is Key to Future of State Parks

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(Sacramento, CA)
Tuesday, July 3, 2012

Parks director Ruth Coleman says all but one of the 70 parks will stay open, but some for just a little while. Cities, counties and non profits have partnered with the state to keep parks running anywhere from one more month to five more years.

Coleman says the reprieve doesn't mean the parks are saved.

COLEMAN: "So I think we're kidding ourselves if we think there's no role for public finance. So what's really important is that we have this conversation as Californians, as to do we value our parks, and are we willing to fund them in the way that our grandparents funded them."

Coleman says in 1979, 91 percent of the park's budget came from general purpose taxes. This year, it's just 29 percent.

COLEMAN: "So in one generation, we have really reduced the amount of taxes that we give to our state park system, and instead we're expecting them to generate more of their own revenue."

Though private partnerships are keeping parks open longer, some fear this is the state's way of permanently shifting responsibility.   Coleman says it's unclear what the future role of nonprofits could be. But she hopes that as the economy improves, there will eventually be more state funding for parks.


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