Assemblymember Mary Hayashi (D-Hayward) announced that she is co-authoring an important bill to save California’s state parks. AB 1589, the California State Park Stewardship Act of 2012, directs the Department of Parks and Recreation to prioritize the creation of a plan to increase revenues and collect user fees at state parks.
Supporters held a press conference at the State Capitol today to discuss the importance of the bill and the need to sustain and protect California’s state park system.
“California’s state parks are treasured by the people of this state, and we must do all we can to stop park closures,” stated Assemblymember Mary Hayashi. “Seventy state parks are in jeopardy of closing in July due to lack of funds. This bill will allow the Department of Parks and Recreation to immediately develop new revenue streams and a long-term plan for sustainability. AB 1589 recognizes how important state parks are to our quality of life, to our economy, and to future generations.”
Other speakers at today’s press conference included Robert Hanna, who is the great-great-grandson of John Muir. Supporters of the bill underscored the historical legacy of California’s state parks, the importance of protecting the state’s natural resources, and the vast benefits that parks provide to communities and the public.
While California’s state parks are a major tourism draw and generate billions of dollars for the state economy, their budgets have not kept up with the growing demand. Maintenance, staffing, and public safety have become major issues due to a significant decline in funding. These budget issues have led to the Governor’s administration decision to close up to 70 state parks by July 2012.
In order to save the parks, AB 1589 gives the Department of Parks and Recreation the authority to implement new revenue strategies, such as the collection of user fees, the sale of annual passes, and the creation of a new state parks specialty license plate. The bill will also make it possible for taxpayers to make contributions to state parks on their return form.
Assemblymember Hayashi is the Chair of the Business, Professions, and Consumer Protection Committee and serves the 18th Assembly District, which includes San Leandro, Hayward, Dublin, most of Castro Valley and Pleasanton, and a portion of Oakland, as well as the unincorporated areas of Ashland, Cherryland, San Lorenzo and Sunol.