California state parks on endangered list

June 4, 2008 7:40:20 PM PDT
If you plan to enjoy some of California's magnificent state parks this summer, you will probably notice the problem.

Many are in a stunning state of disrepair. So much so, our state parks were just place on a new national list of dubious distinction.

It's a call to action by the National Trust for Historic Preservation. California's 278 state parks are teetering on the brink of collapse.

So much so, it made the list of the country's 11 most endangered historic places.

"Our list spotlights historic places across America that are threatened by neglect, insufficient funds, inappropriate development and insensitive public policy," said Anthea Hartig from the National Trust for Historic Preservation.

Never before has an entire governmental system been put on the endangered list.

Even though Governor Schwarzenegger backed off his proposal to close 48 state parks due to the budget crisis, the National Trust still included California because of funding cuts that have gone on for decades.

Today, state money covers only 40 percent of actual maintenance and operation costs.

The state is so behind in park maintenance and repair, the list is now 7,000 projects long. It'll take $1.2 billion to fix it all.

The Parks Budget is one of the few departments with no law protecting it from cuts, and the projects keep piling up.

"Sewage treatment to water treatment, to roofs, to trails, to signs, to visitors centers, to bathrooms to paint. You name it," said Roy Stearns from California State Park Department.

In the 1800's, Jeff Forestier's ancestors once managed Sutter's Fort, now a popular historic park in bad need of a paint job. He can't believe what's happening to his family's legacy.

"If the state were not to maintain this, that would be horrendous. It's just unconscionable to believe a location as historic as this would to into disrepair," said Forestier.

Being on the endangered list doesn't mean any more money. Just heightened awareness, even the little ones understand.

"If we don't care of it, it's not going to be there anymore. We won't even get a chance to see it," said park visitor Alyson Burke.


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