March 28, 2011

Save Our State Parks! Advocacy in Action in Sacramento

Last Tuesday, The California State Parks Foundation organized their 9th Annual State Parks Advocacy Day and Save Our Shores was there to advocate along with 175 others! We were a force to be reckoned with! We were all split into teams according to our region of California, so I was part of a Central Coast team made up of 4 Santa Cruzians and our token San Franciscan.

Our team visited Assembly member Tony Mendoza, Assembly member Luis Alejo (Former major of Watsonville), Senator Joe Simitian, Assembly member Bill Monning and Assembly member Jim Beall. We talked to all of them about two main pieces of legislation: AB 42 and SB 580. Part of the state budget that is in the process of being passed includes a $22 million cut to the Department of Parks and Recreation which will result in some California State Parks being closed. AB 42 would make it so the state park system can contract other non-profits or organizations to manage the closed state parks so they do not go long without proper maintenance and could continue to be open to the public. SB 580 would set high standards for any project that is proposed to use any closed State Park land.

Half of the group, about 100 of us were able to go into the Assembly Water, Parks and Wildlife Committee to give our support for AB 42. After about 25 of us gave our support, the author of AB 42 Assembly member Huffman asked if the remainder could all come into the room and raise their hands in support because it would probably take another hour to have everyone testify! The bill was successfully passed out of committee and is now on the Assembly Floor. At the same time, there was a group of about 75 people that went to the Senate Natural Resources and Water Committee to show their support, this bill was also passed out of committee and is now on the Senate Floor.

Right after the hearing for AB 42, another pieces of legislation that Save Our Shores is in support of came up to the committee, AB 376 which would ban the sale of shark fins in California. I stayed behind with Paul Hobi from the Ocean Conservancy and we both gave our support from our organizations and watched as that too was passed out of committee to go to the Assembly Floor.

Here is Michael Sutton from the Monterey Bay Aquarium giving his support for AB 376.

It was a great day of advocacy and we were very successful in creating a buzz about State Parks around the capitol. If you would like to support AB 42 or SB 580 you can write a letter of support to your local Assembly Member or Senator and tell them why you think State Parks should be saved. Save Our Shores will keep working to keep our California State Parks in great shape for generations to come.

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