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Your $15 Check Could Save California Parks

Los Angeles' Will Rogers State Park
Los Angeles' Will Rogers State Park

Schwarzenegger has spared hundreds of California parks from being closed, at least for now. By restructuring the state parks budget, Sacramento will fix a $14.2 million deficit and avoid shutting down Californians' access to free nature.

"Obviously the governor has finally heard what Californians have been trying to communicate to him for months now," says Elizabeth Goldstein, who heads the California State Parks Foundation. She adds that Schwarzenegger is "trying to heal a wound that was self-inflicted."

But those fighting to preserve public green space are not yet out of the woods -- not even close. As a result of the budget rearranging, lots of parks will have reduced hours, and some will only be open on weekends. Jobs will be cut and maintenance will be scaled back. It amounts to neglect, and the parks won't be able to take it for very long, says Goldstein. And that's where your $15 comes in.

A widely discussed plan to ensure long-term park funding calls for a park access fee that would be included in the annual cost of renewing your vehicle in California.

"We're looking at whether the idea has legs," says Goldstein. She says a decision will be made this fall as to whether they'll try to get the proposal on the 2010 ballot.

The cost being floated for the park pass is $15. Which isn't bad at all, considering that a day pass at certain parks can cost up to $10.

Will Californians get behind the idea, get it into the ballot, and go to the polls to see it through? That's asking a lot, but given the outcry this year against park closures it seems entirely possible.




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