With the economy in a nosedive, the housing crisis on top of us and gas prices soaring, I'm not surprised that few people I talk to are aware of or seem to care about our governor's proposal to close 48 state parks.
They shouldn't be to blame, with so many issues swirling around. But unless we take a moment and keep our eyes on the ball, some of the most beautiful, historical pieces of land in California will quietly slip away.
When you take your family for that summer drive to enjoy a picnic or weekend camp out and you discover that the park gates are chained and locked, the sad realization will set in: We let our governor make a decision that will affect millions of Californians for years to come.
The proposed closures include:
The Great Valley Grasslands in Gustine, the valley's largest remaining wetlands, home to several rare and endangered plants and animals;
George J. Hatfield State Recreation Area near Hilmar;
Railtown 1897 in Jamestown, which hosts more than 64,000 visitors each year, providing a reminder of our industrial heritage and railroad history, along with steam-powered train rides;
The California State Mining and Mineral Museum in Mariposa, which provides children and adults the opportunity to learn about California's Gold Rush days.
The Governor's Mansion, Sutter's Fort and the State Indian Museum, all in Sacramento, are also on the chopping block.
The list goes on, including beaches, redwood parks, campgrounds and reserves.
According to the Save Our State Parks organization, the closures are expected to affect more than 6 million Californians annually. The parks provide a much needed, low-cost recreational outlet for families. Miles of trailways, waterways and campgrounds will be gone. This will affect not only campers, but also hikers, mountain bikers, equestrians, fishermen, kayak enthusiasts and families who love Mother Nature and all she has to offer.
I've visited many of our state parks and enjoyed showing the wonders of nature to my children. One in the redwoods is home to trees as old as 1,400 years. Armstrong Woods State Nature Reserve, in Sonoma County, is also slated for closure. I can't imagine what would become of something that has been protected for years by the state in which it is located if it is no longer important enough to those whom we elect.
Although basic maintenance and law enforcement is promised to the proposed closed sites, anyone with around-the-bend vision can see that if these parks close, they soon could become another piece of property that quite possibly could be sold to a private party to balance a future state budget. Depending on the purchasing party or organization, you just might find yourself visiting your great-great grandchildren in their new three-bedroom, two-bath home located in a subdivision named for what it destroyed: Redwoods Grove, or maybe Railtown USA.
Concerned citizens can get more information by going to www.savestateparks.org.
Vidauri is a Modesto resident. Contact her at firstname.lastname@example.org.