The keys to keeping local parks open

GUEST OPINION by Michele Luna, executive director of Stewards of the Coast and Redwoods based in Duncans Mills.

Michele Luna writes since 1979, the state park budget has decreased by 67 percent, with 37 percent of that reduction in the past six years. These cuts have come during a time when park visitation is at an all-time high.

Few would disagree that a dedicated sustainable funding source is needed to keep all 279 parks open and address the $1.3 billion deferred maintenance backlog.

If new fees are implemented, Stewards feels strongly that those fees need to stay local. Free day-use passes for Russian River-area state parks are available by volunteering 16 hours a year in programs supported by Stewards. Two hundred hours provides a statewide pass. There are affordable park passes available for Californians who are low-income, disabled, seniors and veterans of war. A reasonable pass for Sonoma County residents is needed.

You can read all of Michele Luna GUEST OPINION HERE in The Press Democrat.