If you are doing business in almost any California town or city and any or all of your business is dependent upon tourists or healthy-minded locals, the proposed closure of 80% of California’s State Parks
is major news to you.
In what I can only call an anti-human gesture on the part of California’s state government, this closure of these treasured lands is being suggested as a way to reduce the budget deficit. I have three comments to make about this proposal.
1) Without Our Parks, What Do We Have To Offer?
Hotels, restaurants, tourism associations, local shopping districts, annual festivals, automotive businesses, regional specialty shops, entertainment venues and more all depend upon the fact that that the lure of California’s fabulous park lands gets locals and visitors on the road and doing business year-round. Who will come to California’s towns without the draw of beaches, woods, mountains and rivers to explore?
A Californian vacation means playing hard in nature all day and dining and resting in style at local hospitality destinations. Without our parks, we may as well market ourselves as the endless suburb rather than the jewel of the great west.
2) Public Mental Health Is Vital To All Our Well-Being
Yet another Californian man loses the job he’s had for 10 or 20 years and he’s got to keep it together, regroup and find a new way to support his family. He needs to be able to walk, hike, breathe, think things out. But there are FORBIDDEN signs posted on all of his local parks. Is it better that he should roam the streets, desperate, unable to buy any of the things in the commercial districts to which his troubled footsteps are now restricted?
State Parks provide key touchstones for all people in all states of distress or well-being. We are natural beings and need to be able to walk in nature, smell, see and touch it in order to remain grounded. Prohibiting Californians access to walking trails and mentally-restorative places will make our society less healthy and less safe.
3) Who Can Own The Land?
Criminalizing access to open lands is morally backward. All of the State Parks slated to be closed were once deeply valued and sometimes sacred American Indian lands. Where I live, the earlier generations of Miwoks, Pomos, Ohlones and other great tribes walked the Earth without the burden of state politics ruling where a man could be or not be. My family values our native heritage, and while we have always felt a little rueful about paying fees to walk on Indian Country land, we have done it and have remembered to be thankful to the men and women who provide clean bathrooms and camping sites for so many grateful families.
If California’s government has become so befuddled that they can no longer take care of the lands, I would suggest these lands be given back to the stewardship of local Native peoples who can then search their hearts to decide who will walk on the land. I believe that the tribes would remember the wisdom of man’s natural rights and find a way to share and care for the land. In the face of the trail of broken treaties, I think this would be the best and sanest thing to do.
These days, families and business are struggling to make it all over the United States. It’s easy to get overwhelmed with dark news. When the news gets darkest, my family hits the road and takes the trails along the coast and through the woods to find our balance. I can hardly imagine attempting to live the good life in the absence of this source of security and peace and I exhort the governor to look elsewhere when it comes to budget cutting.