Parks on the block

Parks go timber!?

Parks go timber!?

An arrow on a sign at downtown Sacramento’s Leland Stanford Mansion says “You are here,” and points to a blank spot on the map. “This landmark home also upholds a tradition of service to the state,” the sign also reads.

If only the state had been so kind in return. Due to California’s budget shortfall, including $11 million in cuts to the state park system—with a possible permanent cut of $22 million next year—the Stanford Mansion, along with 69 other California state parks, are set to be closed next summer.

With these closures in mind, the advocacy group the California State Parks Foundation held a rally at the state Capitol grounds last Tuesday, on the first day of summer, to generate support for California parks (see also “Hit the North,” SN&R Bites, June 16; for more parks-closure coverage).

Roughly 100 people turned out in near-triple-digit morning heat to listen to speakers on the north steps of the Capitol building. Supporters of individual parks from the Salton Sea State Recreation Area near the Mexico border to Plumas-Eureka State Park near the Oregon border also manned booths to hand out information.

Politicians including Sen. Lois Wolk and Assemblyman Jared Huffman, both of whom have written legislation to help the parks, also spoke, as did the great-great grandson of California park’s founding father, John Muir.

Downtown workers hustled by, and others drooped on benches in the shade, casually listening in.

Just five minutes away on N Street, the soon-to-close Leland Stanford Mansion grounds were empty and quiet. Acquired by the California park system in 1978, the mansion, built during the state’s previous Gilded Age of 19th-century railroad barons, brings to mind a place the Addams Family might find homey. Its early residents included California governors and, if you care about such things, it was the site of California’s first presidential visit (Rutherford B. Hayes, for those scoring at home).

The Stanford Mansion also has a small plaza lined with roses, which might have been a good, or at least a more park-specific place, for a rally. Also nearby is the Old Governor’s Mansion State Historic Park on H Street. Or, for the more adventurous, the Malakoff Diggins State Historic Park in the Sierra foothills, or the Brannan Island State Recreation Area on the Delta. But rallies at any of these soon-to-be-closed spots might have missed the intended target audience.

Back at the state Capitol, the last speaker of the morning stood on the steps.

“Raise your voices so the people inside can hear you,” she said.

And then the crowd, those who not yet wilted in the heat, chanted:

“Save our parks! Save our parks!”