California Funding for State Parks Initiative

The State Parks and Wildlife Conservation Trust Fund Act qualified for the November ballot on June 10, 2010. This initiative would impose an increase in vehicle license fees by $18 a year so that $500 million a year in funds could be raised to support the state's 278 parks. It is estimated that 28 million vehicles a year would be affected by the new fee. The official ballot title of this measure is: “Establishes $18 Annual Vehicle License Surcharge to Help Fund State Parks and Wildlife Programs and Grants Free Admission to All State Parks to Surcharged Vehicles. Initiative Statute.”

The ballot description from the Attorney General’s office indicates that funds will be used solely for the operation, maintenance, and repair of the state park system, as well as the protection of wildlife and natural resources. Therefore, 85% of the money raised from the new fee would be spent directly on maintaining and operating state parks. The fee would exempt commercial vehicles, trailers and trailer coaches from the surcharge. Also, California vehicles would get unlimited parking at most state parks and beaches, except at some very popular spots around the state.

Since the state would save an estimated $130 million that normally go to state parks if this fee is put in place, then the funds the state saves could be directed to its general fund. It is also estimated there would be a reduction of about $50 million annually in state and local revenues from state park day-use fees, which could be offset by other fees and revenues at the local level.

Supporters of the initiative include tourism groups, environmental organizations, teachers unions and health advocacy organizations. "Californians for State Parks and Wildlife Conservation” is a committee that has been created to support its passage come November. The Nature Conservancy, National Audubon Society, Trust for Public Land, and the Save-the-Redwoods League are all specific groups that are supporting it and have raised funds. Arguments in its favor include: Development, management and expansion of state park units and facilities are needed to provide and enhance public access and recreational opportunities; natural resources, wildlife, rivers, lakes, streams, coastal waters and marine resources need to be protected; and that there has been a repair backlog.

You can read the read the letter submitted to the Attorney General requesting an official ballot title and summary here.

Read the Secretary of State’s announcement of its certification for the fall ballot here.

Find out more about the campaign here.  

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