Editorial: Tourism is Rebounding, So Let’s Close Down the State Parks

How long could a store stay in business if the owner watched what customers bought, then quickly swept those items off the shelves and cancelled further orders to carry the desirable items? People would stop coming. That is what the California Legislature and the governor’s office are talking about doing with our treasured California State Parks System.

The Golden State’s tourism industry is valued overall at $95 billion. It is reported to be the fifth largest source of jobs in California. But the deadlock between Sacramento Democrats and Republicans over the budget is the driver for a decision to permanently close 70 of California’s State Parks, just as California’s tourism customers are returning to enjoy our state’s beauty. Here are two stories we received at roughly the same time last week.—Editor

Visitor Industry Is Bouncing Back

Reported by Rick Davis, Kern County Board of Trade

Figures just released by the State of California revealed a pair of truths: tourism was not immune to the ravages of economic downturn (in 2009 overall spending dipped for the first time since 2002) but the California Travel and Tourism Commission shows the value of direct visitor spending in Kern County was in excess of $1.12 billion in 2009, and local tourism is rebounding.

Indicators for 2010 show a rebound already underway. The lodging tax on hotel and motel stays in the unincorporated areas is the primary indicator. State number crunching projects California will show an increase of 7.4 percent in 2010, but lodging tax activity for Kern County increased by 13.5 percent. We’re well ahead of the curve.

Economic data in the State Report showed that in 2009, Kern’s travel and tourism industry supported 13,600 jobs with an annual payroll of over $318 million.Visitors also contributed $65.4 million into state and local government services via taxes, with $14.3 million of that going directly to the county and its incorporated cities.

Fort Tejon Historic Park Set to Close
Saddleback Butte State Park and the Antelope Valley Indian Museum also on the ‘Cut’ List

Reported by Traci Verardo-Torres, California State Parks Foundation

On May 13 the Department of Parks and Recreation released a list of 70 state parks that will be permanently closed to the public as a direct result of the $11 million cut in March and the $22 million budget cut for the next fiscal year by Governor Jerry Brown and the Legislature. This shocking plan will close the doors to 25% of California’s state park system, including the Governor’s Mansion.

Closure lists were released in the past in response to previous budget cut proposals, but this is the first time in the 100-year history of California’s state parks that closures will be implemented. Permanent park closures will begin in September 2011 and all 70 parks will be fully closed by July 2012.

The Save our State Parks Campaign needs your participation to send a powerful message of opposition to park closures and to help minimize further cuts. SOS has posted an online action alert at www. calparks.org/parkclosures.


This is part of the May 20, 2011 online edition of The Mountain Enterprise.

Have an opinion on this matter? We'd like to hear from you.