Tuesday, July 28, 2009

State Park/OHMVR Update - Parks Takes a Hit

While many folks are cheering the Governor as he signed the budget today, the General is left with the impression that he witnessed a very dark and ugly day in California’s history.

Photo at right is from my recent trip to
Rockefeller Forest at Redwood State
Park near Fortuna
When the Assembly did not approve the budget enhancements (off-shore drilling and taking gas taxes from local governments) the $1 billion dollar hole had to be filled with additional cuts.

The California State Park budget appears to have been one of those targets as well as the OHMVR Program. Although it appears the OHMVR operations (SVRAs and day-to-day administrative duties) and grants program stays intact, the fact remains that over $110 million dollars was “borrowed” from special OHV accounts. That means there will be basically no capital outlay projects or acquisitions for the foreseeable future.

The landscape that used to be the Golden State is now faced with a state park system that may close 100 or more non-SVRA units. State Parks is tasked with a very difficult issue. Also, OHMVR will have to put on hold any plans for new areas.

Certainly the long-term sustainability of State Parks will be based on their ability to find partners, sponsors, and creative methods (we should support those efforts) to become self-supported and more of a user-pay/user benefit program such as the OHV or Boating and Waterways programs.

Also, we are on a 5 month budget cycle so that means we may be doing this all over again in a few months.

If there is a silver lining in the clouds… it is a fact that because of a lot of hard work by unsung heroes (I know who you are and I SALUTE YOU!)… our OHV Program remains. It reminds me of the famous image of the metal structure at the Twin Towers – a Phoenix rising out of the ashes.

Sure things look dark now, but it is during hard times that Californians buck it up and get’er done. Let’s just hope that our leaders in Sacramento have that same metal.

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