By Ed Zieralski, San Diego Union-Tribune
March 6, 2010
What's really behind the proposed State Parks Initiative that will add $18 to our vehicle registrations in California to help fund the failing state parks system?
Fish and Game commissioner Dan Richards recognizes the proposed State Parks Initiative for what it is. A sham.
Once again, California taxpayers, in this instance, California's vehicle owners, are being asked to fund a failing state parks system that is $1 billion behind in work projects. But that's just part of the state parks' problems. The parks have been incredibly mismanaged for years. Cuyamaca Rancho State Park is a prime example. Had the state parks personnel done proper forest management, the burn that wiped out most of that park during the 2003 Cedar Fire never would have burned as hot and for as long as it did. All that timber that the park employees let lay after it died from bark beetle infestations or disease fueled that catastrophic fire in an unimaginable, horrific way. These park administrators and employees basically protected and preserved that beautiful park to death.
Richards was the only one of five commissioners on Wednesday who refused to endorse this latest sit down at the public trough for more money from an already over-taxed California citizenry. If this state parks initiative makes it to the ballot in November and is passed by the state's voters, this will give non-public entities all the public funding they need to bid on land, projects, etc., without any oversight. Oh, they promise there will be monitoring of the money, but can you really believe that from a group of fanatical environmentalists who know no boundaries when it comes to wasting the public's time, money and energy?
At some point, this out-of-control extreme environmental movement has to be stopped in this state to allow for some common sense. Right now, there isn't any. Everyone wants to be green. Everyone wants to do the right thing environmentally. So when scams and shams like this come along, everyone just signs up for it. Must be good, right? No, this is very bad.
On the surface, the funds are earmarked for the state parks, the DFG, the Ocean Protection Council and other "state conservancies." But what impact will this grab of public money have on the state budgets for the parks and the DFG? Will the legislature then reduce their budgets and funding by a like amount? What will parks and the DFG really net from all this?
Looking at it right now, the Ocean Protection Council and the other non-government groups look to make out large, getting over $40 million of taxpayer money to do what they want with it. That's just wrong.
It's bad enough that this proposed initiative is bailing out the poorly managed state parks system. They should have stopped right there, but no, they had to add the MLPA to the mix. That's where they made a huge mistake.
There have been some incredible conflicts of interest throughout this MLPA process, and this is just the latest example of the movement to take the management of fish and game away from the Department of Fish and Game.
Right now, there is a strong movement in the state legislature to completely cut funding for the Marine Life Protection Act and the black hole it has become.
Here's the latest, the Legislative Analysts' position on the MLPA for the budget year 2010-2011. This was published March 3, 2010:
"Recommend suspension of state support ($4.4 million General Fund and $400,000 special funds) for this recent public-private partnership initiative (2004) to help the state implement the Marine Life Protection Act. Funding in the budget year is for establishment of the marine protected areas (MPAs), not for long-term enforcement or management of them once established. There is no long-term comprehensive plan to finance administration and enforcement of the proposed MPAs. Other existing state fishing statutes (traditional fishing restrictions and the Marine Life Management Act) could be used to enforce fishing restrictions as an alternative to this proposal."
What's clear in this statement is that the there is a strong sentiment in Sacramento that it's time to stop wasting money on the MLPA process. For the Legislative Analysts to recommend "suspension of state support" for the MLPA, it clearly is taking a stand. The common sense arguments have finally gotten through to some in Sacramento that fisheries management has been effective, that the DFG has done its job, and that present fisheries management practices will continue to be effective without the MLPA.
The answer now is for fishermen -- and hunters, too, because you're going to be impacted by this rigged Fish and Game Commission -- to go to the state legislature and rally your state senators and state legislators. Let them know how you feel about this parks initiative, this latest sham, the latest move to fund this unholy war against fishermen.
The state legislature is getting bombarded with requests by people who want to waste more money, but in this case, this is a way for the state to cut its losses on the MLPA and quit funding this black hole of an agenda.
This initiative proposal is the latest attempt to fund not just the failing parks system, but the struggling MLPA. And the language is vague enough to allow these so-called "conservation groups" to take the money and use it rather than allow the DFG to use it for its purposes.
We still have the power to vote in this country, to voice our opinions about things we see that are just wrong.