March 18 2010 by Amy Graff
Last weekend my kids touched a banana slug, watched rock climbers scale unusual rock formations, and learned how to identify a redwood tree.
We spent the afternoon hiking at Castle Rock State Park, a woodsy area on the crest of the Santa Cruz Mountains, about an hour and a half from our home in San Francisco.
I grew up hiking at Castle Rock and so I wanted to show the place to my kids. On weekends, my parents would pack a picnic and we'd spend the day meandering the trails and stopping for lunch at one of the vista points offering views of the Pacific Ocean.
It was special bringing my kids to a place that played a part in my childhood, but I wonder if my kids will be able to bring their kids to Castle Rock?
The state parks are in peril. USA Today recently reported:
Lawmakers in at least a dozen states have contemplated the closure of up to 400 state parks this year, according to a National Association of State Park Directors survey, says Philip McKnelly, the association's executive director.
The exact number to be closed remains a moving target, he says, as budget negotiations continue and compromises such as reducing hours and cutting staff are made to avoid closures.
Government leaders are tempted to view parks as expendable, McKnelly says, although public recreation facilities are important during an era of unemployment and financial stress. "They think, well, this is just play, it's frivolous ... but this is the worst time to be talking about closing parks."
In my state of California our governor Arnold Schwarzenegger proposed eliminating 220 of the state's 278 parks last year. Elizabeth Goldstein, president of the California State Parks Foundation, says that plan was dropped in the face of an "enormous outcry from the public," and now the state plans part-time closure of 60 parks and reduced services at 90 others. Castle Rock is one of those places where services are being reduced.
For traveling families these parks are precious. They offer affordable outdoor fun.
Want to learn what you can to do help save state parks? Visit Save Our State Parks.