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Sugarloaf Ridge is first state park to close
by Dan Bacher
Saturday Dec 3rd, 2011 11:58 PM
Proposals to privatize state parks take place in the context of the drive by Wall Street-backed politicians and big corporate environmental NGOs and foundations to privatize the public trust.

Photo of Sugarloaf Ridge State Park courtesy of California State Parks Association.
Sugarloaf Ridge is first state park to close

Occupy the state parks?

by Dan Bacher

David Gurney, independent journalist, slammed the state of California's winter closure of Sugarloaf Ridge State Park in Sonoma County - and pondered whether state parks proposed for closure will be turned over to private interests, as some have proposed.

"In the first ring of a dismal peal that signals the death knell for our revered State Parks system, Sugarloaf Ridge Park east of Santa Rosa has now closed," said Gurney in his latest column on his Noyo News Blog (

"Some say this is the beginning of the privatization process for California public lands, as the State heedlessly closes our recreational and money-making parks," said Gurney. "Will our publicly owned parks be turned over to private interests? Will the people be barred from their own public lands, or forced to pay private interests to enter? Noyo News asks – why?"

Sugarloaf Ridge State Park, located near Kenwood, contains the headwaters of Sonoma Creek. The creek runs through gorge and canyon, across the meadow floor, beneath scenic rock outcroppings, and is surrounded at times by redwoods and ferns. A 25-foot waterfall flows after the winter rains.

According to the Santa Rosa Press-Democrat, "Sugarloaf, Annadel State Park in Santa Rosa, Jack London State Historic Park in Glen Ellen, Austin Creek State Recreation Area in Guerneville and the Petaluma Adobe are all slated to close July 1, as are several parks in Lake and Mendocino counties. Parks officials contend closing 70 parks statewide will achieve $22 million in annual savings demanded by Gov. Jerry Brown last year to help solve a $26.2 billion deficit." (

On October 4, Governor Jerry Brown signed Assembly Bill (AB) 42, the bill sponsored by the California State Parks Foundation (CSPF) to allow funding from non-profit corporations to keep state parks open.

This bill authorized the State Department of Parks and Recreation "to enter into an operating agreement for the development, improvement, restoration, care, maintenance, administration, or operation of a unit or units, or portion of a unit, of the state park system, as identified by the director, with a qualified nonprofit organization, as provided."

Around the state, some of the 70 parks slated for closure are already seeing significant portions and areas of individual parks close. All of the 70 parks on the closure list are anticipated to have service reductions enacted between now and next spring that will become permanent closures on July 1, 2012.

Proposals to privatize state parks take place in the context of the drive by Wall Street-backed politicians and big corporate environmental NGOs and foundations to privatize the public trust.

The state of California has already allowed the Marine Life Protection Act (MLPA) implementation to be privatized through a Memorandum of Understanding between the shadowy Resources Legacy Fund Foundation and the Department of Fish and Game. The result is the creation of so-called marine protected areas under the MLPA Initiative that fail to protect ocean waters from oil drilling and spills, pollution, corporate aquaculture, military testing, wave and wind energy projects and all other human impacts on the ocean other than fishing and gathering.

The other result of privatization of the MLPA process is the domination of the MLPA Blue Ribbon Task Forces that oversee the "implementation" of marine protected areas by corporate interests, including a big oil lobbyist, marina developer and coastal real estate executive.

Catherine Reheis-Boyd, the president of the Western States Petroleum Association (WSPA), served as the chair of the MLPA Blue Ribbon Task Force to create “marine protected areas” on the South Coast that are set to got into effect on January 1, 2012. She also served on the North Coast and North Central Coast panels to create these “marine protected areas.” Her leadership role, in and of itself, makes the MLPA process completely illegitimate.

When not chairing or serving on these rigged panels, Reheis-Boyd has been busy lobbying for new oil drilling off the California coast, tar sands drilling in Canada (, and for the weakening of environmental regulations throughout the West.

Likewise, the Bay Delta Conservation Plan (BDCP), another corrupt "public" process designed to construct a peripheral canal to export more water from the imperiled California Delta water to southern California and corporate agribusiness, is dominated by operatives from the Westlands Water District, State Water Contractors Association and other corporate interests who will make huge profits at the expense of the imperiled Delta.

Delta advocates believe the peripheral canal or tunnel, if constructed, is likely to lead to the extinction of Central Valley steelhead, Sacramento River chinook salmon, Delta smelt, longfin smelt, green sturgeon and other imperiled species. Of course, the Brown and Obama administrations have completely excluded Delta residents, California Indian Tribes, recreational anglers, commercial fishermen, family farmers, environmental justice advocates and all of those who truly care about the Delta from the BDCP Management Committee.

Whether we're talking about state parks, marine protection or plans for the Delta, privatization is horrible public policy that will result in the destruction of our public trust resources. Privatization is part of a well orchestrated campaign by the 1 percent to take away public trust resources from the 99 percent.

Residents of Mendocino County's Anderson Valley recently organized a three-day occupation of Hendy Woods State Park in an effort to save it from closure.

Will increasing numbers of people upset by the economic crisis engineered by Wall Street banksters and their political servants in the Obama and Brown administrations, Congress, the Senate and the State Legislature take the lead from the Occupy movement and start to occupy state parks slated for closure?

Comments  (Hide Comments)

by Konsider
Sunday Dec 4th, 2011 2:34 AM
The earth--although indeed being destroyed by the 99%--isn't just a public resource. That's not to say that this information regarding environmental privatization isn't important--and needing to be confronted. The question is how?

Environmental destruction has largely been absent inside the occupation movement, despite being the most crucial aspect regarding what the 99% we are up against. That said, the human species is sustained by the environment, but is not ours exclusively: hundreds of other species are sustained by the environment as well.

The basic meaning of nature involves SHARING, that's something the 1% doesn't seem to understand. The whole mentality of the power/ domination/class dynamic is that nature-- the earth--belongs to humans: is something owned, for use, for consumption, for the SUPERIOR being, and it's that approach that we need to transcend.

I want to stress that my point here isn't to disregard, or dismiss this post. Not in the least. To reiterate, the information here is of utmost importance--is crucial-- which is precisely why I am trying to open conversation and commenting on it.

by Royak
Sunday Dec 4th, 2011 10:12 AM

The state's claim that its financial problems require the closing of our state parks is fictitious nonsense. It may indeed be necessary to reduce or eliminate the cost of park employees, but this can be done without banning public use of these areas. It’s insulting to suggest we taxpayers require a “baby sitter” or adult supervision to visit a park. The primary maintenance need is the emptying of trash, but that can be subcontracted if necessary. Leave the gates open!
by Tax the Rich
Sunday Dec 4th, 2011 4:52 PM
There are 750,000 millionaire households in California who could easily afford to pay more income taxes which would end the whole phony budget crisis in California and in every city and county IMMEDIATELY. NOTHING SHOULD BE PRIVATIZED, EVERYTHING SHOULD BE PUBLIC. Since these cutbacks are now being perpetrated by Democratic Governor Brown, with a Democratic majority Legislature, the message should be real clear: YOU MUST VOTE YOUR CONSCIENCE IN EVERY ELECTION AND THAT MEANS VOTING FOR THE PARTIES WHICH SUPPORT TAXING THE RICH:
1. Peace & Freedom Party
2. Green Party
by SactoRes
Sunday Dec 4th, 2011 11:44 PM
In state government $22 mil is a mere drop in the bucket. There are state contracts that far exceed this amount. When was it determined that certain public services had to turn a profit. The neighborhood park does not charge a fee nor is visitatioon tracked it is an open space for people to enjoy. So many people want to save the parks yet there was a valid attempt to add a fee to cover the parks last year.

Some local/statewide NGOs that appear to work for state parks did little or nothing to promote this ballot measure. According to its fact sheet, in 2011 a certain nonprofit that "advocates" for CA state parks has indicated it has an “annual operating and restricted project budgets are approaching $30 million.” Many are still unclear what this entity does with $30 million dollars.

Unfortunately a crisis is manufactured and then a solution is offered, which was the virtually uncontested AB42 was signed into law. Where there was existing authority to share park management with with local government, this law further expanded authority to enter into operating agreements with private non-profit corporations. Many nonprofits are sincerely interested in the parks and many have great partnerships with these parks, but this clearly is privatization. It is unclear what these new agreements will look like. Several existing nonprofits have already stepped and in some instances local or federal governments have stepped in to manage the park. The unfortunate part is that few California residents care about these places as an outing to the shopping mall or some sort of entertainment venue is now preferred by many.
by .
Monday Dec 5th, 2011 5:47 PM
this single fish hatchery in the Willamette hatchery costs $23million... and a lot of the management agencies don't even want the thing because it could be the case that the hatchery fish negatively influence the wild run, although that's up for debate

The bay bridge is over $6billion