by Jarrell C. Jackman
Over the past 12 years the California State Parks Foundation has organized an annual Park Advocacy Day in Sacramento. This year was the best, because State Parks is on an upswing after a couple of years of troubles that most people are aware of.
The Purpose of Park Advocacy Day (PAD) is to lobby Legislators to support the 280 parks in the State Parks System that cover the entire State, from north of Crescent City (Pelican Bay State Beach) on the Oregon border to the Southeast Corner of California on the border near Yuma, Arizona on the Colorado River (Picacho State Recreation Area).
This year we asked legislators to support the forty million dollars the Governor has put forward to begin addressing the backlog of deferred maintenance in the Parks, and some legislation that would provide a competitive grant program to bring underserved urban groups to the parks. There may even be a Park Bond in 2014, although it is more likely to be later—probably on the ballot in 2016.
PAD morning was spent learning about the issues at a meeting at the Sheraton Hotel, at which there was the presentation of the Park Legacy Award to Senator Kevin de León of Los Angeles for his support of California’s State Parks.
Then lunch on the Capitol lawn, followed by our meetings with legislators. I called our Team, the Four White Guys on a Parks Mission. Maybe we were not ethnically diverse, but our backgrounds sure were: on the Team were Dave Beard, a retired teacher and former head counselor at Long Beach Wilson High where he spent forty years; Nathan Weaver, a grad of UC Davis with a degree in Environmental Science, followed by Harvard Law School; Randy Widera, former Executive Director of Friends of Santa Cruz State Parks and now a consultant to various Park nonprofits, and yours truly, the man who has visited all of the State Parks. Both Randy and I are former presidents of the California League of Park Associations and have both attended all twelve PADs.
At lunch we had a few guffaws talking about fundraising opportunities at some of the State beaches (Night Time Panga Boat Rides) and bringing the department into the 21st Century technological age (a fleet of Drones to take out illegal pot growers in State Parks). (Didn’t you just love Governor Brown’s response to the question of legalizing Pot in California?: “The Last thing this State needs is a bunch of Potheads!”)
Then we got serious and met with four legislators including our very own Santa Barbara Assembly Member Das Williams and Senator Norma Torres of Pomona. We also met staffers of Senator Hannah Beth Jackson and Senator Ricardo Lara. They were very responsive and supportive of State Parks. These events are really a lot of fun, and you meet Park Advocates who appreciate the importance of preserving and enjoying our State’s Natural and Cultural Heritage. At the end of the day we heard from retired Marine General Anthony Jackson, current Director of California State Parks. He thanked us for our lobbying efforts and we in turn responded, or at least I did: Semper Fi.
Jarrell Jackman is the executive director at the Santa Barbara Trust for Historic Preservation