My Turn: Tahoe area state parks could close

Marguerite Sprague
My Turn

Our California State Parks in the Tahoe Truckee area are slated to be closed. People have a hard time believing it, but it’s true. According to Gov. Schwarzenegger’s proposed amendment to the budget, he’ll cut park funding by 50 percent on July 1, then take away the rest of the funds within the next year. Really.

This will close 221 state parks “-80 percent “-statewide.

“Well, we need the money,” some folks say. But will this really save us any money? For each tax dollar the state spends, chunks go here and there until you’re down to the last penny. Now take that last penny and cut it into 10 slivers. Not done yet: take one of those slivers, and shave a bit off. That is what parks receive in funding: less than one-tenth of one percent of the budget.

For each dollar the state funds parks, it’s estimated that the state receives $2.35 back from “economic activities” in the parks’ surrounding communities. That’s us in Tahoe and Truckee, folks. For every dollar the state gives our parks ” Donner, Sugar Pine Point, D.L. Bliss, Emerald Bay and more ” they get more than double back. So why cut parks? It won’t help the budget woes we face and it will harm our community: we need the park visitors.

How can you help stop this madness? You can help online, on paper, on the phone and in person.

Online: go to and fill in its automated form. This will send a letter to your legislator and the governor. Tell your friends: there is strength in numbers.

On paper: write letters! Tell them to keep the parks open and send letters to your assemblyperson, state senator, governor, local newspapers and not-so-local newspapers. Tell them how the park closures will affect our community ” lost revenue, lost recreation opportunities for stressed people, etc.

On the phone: Call your representatives! Tell them, politely, how you feel about this. Offer constructive suggestions.

For the latest news, go to Pick an action, but it’s terribly important to do something to keep our parks open. It’s easy to feel cynical or helpless, but we are really neither. They will listen to the people if they speak up. It’s our time.

Marguerite Sprague is the Executive Director of the Sierra State Parks Foundation.

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