(Wall Street Journal) It’s no secret that California suffers from chronic budget problems. The most recent item on the budget chopping block is state parks. On May 13, the legislature voted to cut $22 million from the parks budget, potentially causing eighteen state park closures in the San Francisco Bay Area alone.
A representative from Marin County, one of the areas affected by the cuts, has introduced legislation allowing nonprofits to form partnerships to help fund and run state parks in danger of closure. One such organization, Friends of Santa Cruz, has already raised $60,000 in 2010 to save the jobs of lifeguards at three state beaches. Angel Island Immigration Station has raised $11 million to restore buildings that detained Chinese immigrants in the early 1900s—buildings that hold a strong cultural and historical significance for Bay Area communities. Etched into stone walls during their often long detainment on Angel Island, immigrants’ writings in Chinese characters are still visible today. The structures on Angel Island form a uniquely important aspect of Californian history, and it would be a shame to lose them because lawmakers in Sacramento can’t find a better way to balance the budget.
Even with the hurried, determined fundraising of these nonprofits, many worry that their actions won’t be enough to save California’s state parks. Many nonprofits simply do not have sufficient volunteer manpower to run a state park, and all organizations are working to raise funds against a deadline of July 1, when the budget cuts go into effect.