SACRAMENTO (CBS13) – Robert Hanna, the great-great grandson of naturalist John Muir, knows how important state parks are to California, and seeing 70 of them on the closure list is something he’s not taking lightly.
“It’s like fighting for my own children,” he said. “I have to do everything in my power and what my family has taught me along the way to protect and preserve these places.”
And that’s why several lawmakers are stepping in.
“They are part of what makes this state great,” said Assembly member Jared Huffman (D-San Rafael).
Members of the state Assembly from both sides of the aisle are joining forces to save California state parks.
“A closed state park is like a foreclosed home in a neighborhood,” said Assembly member Kevin Jeffries (R-Lake Elsinore)
Assembly Bill 1589 proposes strategies for keeping many state parks open, an effort that requires taxpayers’ involvement.
“A specialty license plate, for instance, that’s a way all Californians can show their support,” Jeffries said.
Some Assembly members say there are cities that depend on state parks as a local economic engine.
“If you take that away, if you try to shut that down, you make think you’re making budget savings, but you’re creating a lot of economic loss that over time is going to be bad for the state budget,” Huffman said.
But some people say these state park closures might need to happen.
“They need to do whatever they need to do to balance the budget,” Helen Peck said.
Others disagree. They say state parks should be last on the chopping block and that other solutions are out there.
“That would be very disappointing,” Ola Gipfon said. “Luncheons, cars for politicians. They have their own cars. We don’t need to be paying for some things.”