The Open Space Council Blog


Liveblogging from the Harvest Gathering!

November 17, 2011


Over 100 people filled the Tamalpais Room at the Brower Center to hear from a panel about, and discuss themselves, the state parks crisis and the partnerships that are forming because of it.  Much thanks to:

We will post the presentations on our Events page, and here on this blog, when they are available.  Several folks tweeted during the Gathering or retweeted about it, including @landpaths @baynature @calparks @christinesf @SaveMountDiablo @TreehuggersIntl @vitalitat @aheartwell.  You can see the story on Twitter with #stateparkscrisis

Our next Gathering will be January 19, topic and location TBD.  Stay tuned here for more information.  If you are so in love with the Open Space Council that you’ll attend no matter what, click here to register.


12:36pm: We’re wrapping up and going to lunch.  I’ll post Traci’s and Danita’s presentations here and on our website later today.  Look for pictures on Flickr later, too.

12:33pm:  An excellent question about young people.  How do we involve them in this issue and their future of parks?  Craig Anderson says that every site is different and in any way possible involve teenagers in that place.

12:29pm: Craig wrapped up.  We are going to do a few minutes of Q&A and then lunch.

12:28pm: If you’re not familiar with LandPaths’ work on Taylor Mountain or Bayer Farm, check them out.  They are “people powered parks.”

12:17pm: Craig: “We need to think big.  We need to reenvision parks so that it can be everything it can be.”

Craig Anderson talking

12:15pm: Craig is going to talk about the lessons that he and LandPaths have learned about the state parks crisis.

Craig Anderson

12:13pm: Ruskin has wrapped up.  Dave Gould said that it’s not surprising that Save the Redwoods is involved in the state parks situation.  They were involved at the very beginning of the state parks system.  Dave then introduced the Executive Director of LandPaths.

12:10pm: Ruskin “We need to think collectively think about long term sustainable solutions.  What does the state park system need to look like in the future?”

Ruskin Hartley

12:07pm: Ruskin: “We need innovation.  We need to try new things.”

12:06pm: Bob has wrapped up.  Dave Gould has introduced Ruskin Hartley.

11:54am:  Lunch is supposed to start at 12pm, but we still have Ruskin Hartley of Save the Redwoods League and Craig Anderson from LandPaths.  We’ll probably go till 12:30pm.

11:50am: Bob Berman: “It’s been mentioned already today, but it deserves repeating that even if a park isn’t being closed, the service reductions and budget cuts are affecting all state parks.”

Bob Berman

11:46am: Lauren has wrapped up.  Dave Gould thanked her and has introduced Bob Berman.  Bob is on the Executive Committee of the Bay Area Open Space Council, partner in Nichols-Berman consulting firm, and a founder of the Solano Land Trust.  He’s talking today as part of his involvement in the Benicia State Parks Association.

11:45am: Lauren: “We have 17 great groups around the table really caring about these parks.  The Sonoma Land Trust provided start up funding for the Parks Alliance.  The County Parks has provided office space.  The Sonoma County Agricultural Preservation and Open Space District provides meeting space.  These three in particular have really stepped up to support this cause.”

11:42am: Lauren: “We feel really encouraged about what is happening in Sonoma County.  If we it can be done, it can be done in Sonoma County.”

11:32am: Dave Gould has introduced Lauren Dixon of Sonoma Parks Alliance.

Lauren Dixon, Parks Alliance

11:30am: Danita has wrapped up her presentation.  Loud applause for this local leader!

11:28am: Danita has moved on to China Camp now.  She wants to confirm that the State Parks is not kicking out Frank Quan, the lone resident of China Camp State Park.  Click here to read an article about it on Huffington Post.  And here’s a video about him and the park:

11:25am: Danita is describing the partnership that State Parks and National Park Service have created using the parking lot at Muir Woods.  Muir Woods is in the same watershed as Samuel P Taylor and has a very high visitor rate.  Every tourist who comes to the Bay Area goes to Muir Woods.  There will be an additional $2 parking fee that will go to State Parks.

11:22am: Danita, who is also on the Executive Committee of the Bay Area Open Space Council:

Danita Rodriguez, State Parks
11:19am: Danita: “There are 4 parks in Marin on the closure list, but all state parks are affected.  There are service reductions across the board.”

11:13am: Danita Rodriguez: “How do you actually close a park?  We have to keep them open but we have to close them.”

11:10am: Dave Gould is introducing Danita Rodriguez from Marin District of State Parks.  He said, if he could put together a A list of people he’d like to work with, Danita is on that list.

11:09am: Traci is closing by saying: “Endorse the campaign!

11:05am: Traci: “We have a lot of work to do to raise awareness of state parks.  And not just those 70 parks slated to close, but all of our 270 state parks.”

10:58am: Traci: “We at the State Parks Foundation are not in the business of running parks.  But we want to do what we can to support those groups who can support these parks.  My back of the envelope math is that there are 20 parks that have a good chance of staying open.  Another 20 have a fighting chance.  We have another 30-40 parks that don’t have a good safety net right now and who will probably close.”

10:55am: Traci Verardo: “What is the incentive for groups to really stretch to keep a park open?  One answer is that all revenue raised in a park stays in the park.”

10:47am: Traci Verardo from State Parks Foundation:

Traci Verardo, State Parks FoundationShe’s talking now about AB42 and the work that the State Parks Foundation did to make that happen.  Click here to learn more about AB42.

10:43am: Sorry!  For those of you watching live, we were having internet issues.  We’re here!

10:40am: “The Governor is giving the state the government they are willing to pay for, even if it’s not the government they want,” said Traci Verardo.  “Nothing is sacred.”

10:38am: “This legislature and Governor have not felt the public outcry that Goveror Schwarzenegger did in 2008 and 2009 when parks weren’t supported,” said Traci Verardo.

10:34am:  Traci Verardo from State Parks Foundation is speaking now.  I will get her presentation up here on the blog later this morning.  “Over 90% of state parks budget came from the General Fund in the 1970s.  Now it’s more like 38% comes from the General Fund.”

10:31am: Before we started the panel, we watched this video just released yesterday:

10:29am: Andrea Mackenzie welcomed everyone and introduced Dave Gould, our moderater of today’s panel.  Dave said that he has always loved working with the Bay Area Open Space Council and is thrilled to be here.

10:28am: Good morning!  Today we are holding our last Gathering of the year at the Brower Center in downtown Berkeley.  Currently there aren’t any helicopters buzzing overhead, but that’s always subject to change this close to the Cal campus.  This is Annie Burke and I’ll be blogging this morning with quotes, photos, and links.

Today we’re talking about the State Parks crisis.  In case you didn’t know, right now California State Parks, the largest state park system in the country, face unprecedented budget cuts and closures. Governor Jerry Brown signed budget cuts in May 2011 that included a reduction of General Fund support for state parks by $11 million for Fiscal Year 2011-12 and a total reduction of $22 million by the beginning of Fiscal Year 2012-2013.  Seventy parks are slated to close by July 2012, some of which have already done so.   China Camp, Olompali, Jack London, Samuel P. Taylor, Sugarloaf Ridge, Annadel, Austin Creek, Petaluma Adobe, Bale Grist Mill, Bothe-Napa Valley, Castle Rock, and Henry Coe are all here in the Bay Area.

This hasn’t happened before.  New partnerships are being formed.  New ways of working together have been created and are being implemented.  And new strategies are needed to deal with the new realities of publicly funded conservation.

What does it all mean?  What is being done?  And how do we need to think in new ways?  Our panel is going to answer these questions.  Our panel includes:

The program just started.  Ready?