SACRAMENTO, Calif., Sept. 22 /PRNewswire/ -- The campaign supporting Prop. 21, the Nov. 2 statewide ballot measure that will provide a stable and adequate funding source for state parks and beaches, has announced unprecedented support from a wide-ranging coalition of interests made up of more than 450 organizations throughout California.
Among the varied interests supporting Prop. 21 are groups representing the business, travel and tourism, public health, education, labor, entertainment, public safety, faith, Latino, African American, local government, conservation and environmental communities.
"Three decades of underfunding our state parks now directly threatens the viability of our parks. State parks now face more than a $1.3 billion backlog of basic maintenance and needed repairs. As a result, we see everything from closures, unclean restrooms, closed campgrounds, and overgrown trails and to buildings verging on collapse," said Mike Sweeney, executive director of The Nature Conservancy California. "California citizens put Prop. 21 on the ballot to deal with the immediate needs of parks and wildlife conservation – and to address Sacramento's failure to protect our parks. We see an unprecedented level of support from millions of Californians and more than 450 organizations which clearly demonstrates the importance of state parks to our lives, our economy, our environment and our future in California."
Approval of Prop. 21 will provide California vehicles with free, year-round day-use access to state parks and beaches, in exchange for a new $18 surcharge. This new surcharge will be assessed as part of California's annual vehicle registration. All California vehicles will be subject to the surcharge, except larger commercial vehicles, mobile homes and permanent trailers. Funds from the surcharge will be placed in a trust fund dedicated specifically to state parks and wildlife conservation, which cannot legally be used for other purposes.
Each year, state parks attract more than 80 million visits, which result in more than $4 billion in economic activity for the state. Many local economies depend upon the economic activity that state parks generate to support small businesses and to create local jobs. For example, California's entertainment industry relies on state parks for filming locations. In 2009 alone, more than 900 permits to film in California state parks were issued, amounting to more than 2,000 days of filming. State parks are essential to stopping the hemorrhaging of film production and production jobs to out of state locations.
"Finding ways to keep film production in California is vital to our economic future," said Stuart Waldman, president of the Valley Industry and Commerce Association. "With more than 2,000 days of filming each year, state parks are California's most popular state-owned filming location. This makes it especially important that these locations remain accessible to the entertainment industry, and Prop. 21 ensures that they will."
For future generations of Californians, the state's 278 state parks are a valuable cultural, historical and environmental legacy.
"State parks are an integral part of our shared heritage in California, and are essential to our way of life," said Hank Lacayo, president of the Congress of California Seniors. "As seniors, we feel that the legacy of our vibrant and diverse state parks is something that needs to be funded and maintained for the enjoyment of future generations. By approving Prop. 21 we can be confident that our state parks and beaches will have the funding they need to remain accessible for our children and grandchildren."
In addition to being a valuable legacy for future generations and a driver of California's economy, the state's 278 state parks offer valuable educational, recreational and affordable travel destinations for Californians.
"We are facing a public health epidemic in the Latino community," said Ana Carricchi, director of policy for Latino Health Access. "As a community, Latinos are watching the rate of obesity and cases of diabetes skyrocket. It is a trend that must be stopped. Through Prop. 21, we will be able to preserve and protect vital outdoor recreational space – space that is key in our fight to build healthier communities."
Under Prop. 21 state parks will be more affordable for California families, providing year-round, day-use access for only $18 a year. Currently, many state parks cost as much as $15 for one-time day-use, and an annual pass costs $125. With a state park near virtually every community in California, state parks offer an ideal location for families to spend time together.
"As a faith organization, we know how vital state parks are in strengthening and connecting California families," said Rev. Dr. Rick Schlosser, executive director of California Church IMPACT. "State parks offer low-cost destinations for families to spend time together in nearly every region of our state. Under Prop. 21 not only will state parks receive adequate funding, but California families will be able to enjoy even more affordable year-round access."
Budget cuts and underfunding have not only taken a toll on the maintenance of California's state parks, but it has also significantly impacted public safety in parks statewide. Currently, 30 percent of state park ranger positions are vacant and beaches throughout the state have been forced to cut lifeguard positions because of budget cuts. Prop. 21 will enable filling of vacant park ranger, lifeguard and fish and game warden positions, and restore previously cut public safety programs.
"Public safety resources in our state parks are at an all time low because of a three decade long history of underfunding," said Alan Barcelona, president of California Statewide Law Enforcement Association. "Statewide, state parks lack the lifeguard, ranger and public safety staff to adequately preserve, protect and maintain our parks and beaches. Prop. 21 is the only solution that will ensure our state parks and beaches have the necessary resources to ensure our state parks are preserved and protected for future generations."
A full list of supporters can be found at www.YesForStateParks.com.
SOURCE Yes on 21, Californians for State Parks and Wildlife Conservation