Good news about Ruth Coleman, member of our reading group


See the SF Chronicle article below on fellow member Ruth Coleman – the Chronicle says she played an important role in reversing the Governor’s decision to close parks.

“According to a source close to the governor’s office, three factors were in play: the public outcry, the basic math of the matter and Coleman herself. Bill Bradley of the California State Parks Foundation said he heard a similar report.”

And the Chronicle goes further to say that Ruth is one of the best leaders of the Parks system…

“This kind of leadership makes her the best Parks director in 30 years and probably the best since the legendary William Mott in the 1960s and ’70s.”

Most of you remember our discussions with Ruth over the phone – including the discussions about the park closings.

Congratulations, Ruth!



Reprieve for state parks makes economic sense
Tom Stienstra

Sunday, May 18, 2008

This time you’re getting your two cents worth, both literally and figuratively.

That’s because Gov. Schwarzenegger’s revised budget released Thursday rescinds January’s proposal to close 48 state parks and save $9 million. That’s right: No state parks will be closed.

It’s literal because closing 48 parks would have saved each state resident only two cents per month. It’s figurative because I asked the public to send the governor two pennies in a crusade to keep the parks open. Some even sent the governor handfuls of pennies, according to e-mail accounts. I’m sure the governor’s staff loved that.

The governor’s new budget also restores $5 million to pay for lifeguards at 16 popular state beaches.

Rescinding the cuts means 6.5 more million people will be served this year, according to Parks chief Ruth Coleman. She said keeping the parks open also makes economic sense.

“We’re small dollars but large service,” Coleman said. “The parks can help fuel local economies. In some cases, you close a park, you can close a town.”

She said that with high gas prices, there has been an increase in visitation at parks near population centers, especially the Bay Area. In addition, about two-thirds of all campgrounds on the state park reservation system are already booked for this summer. Camping is a viable low-cost option to a vacation in Hawaii or elsewhere, Coleman said.

How and why the governor withdrew the cuts to parks in a severe budget crisis is still a secret.

“We weren’t in the room,” Coleman said. “We are very grateful the governor reinstated the parks budget. He recognizes these parks are vital to all. In this economy, they are more important than ever.”

According to a source close to the governor’s office, three factors were in play: the public outcry, the basic math of the matter and Coleman herself. Bill Bradley of the California State Parks Foundation said he heard a similar report.

“It’s clear that the May revise is responding to the overwhelming statewide outcry opposing the closure of state parks,” Bradley said. “All Californians should be able to afford to visit their state parks and should not have to worry year-to-year that their parks are in danger of being shut down.”

Although she takes no credit, Coleman’s role in this budget turnaround has been a testimony to how to get things done.

In January, she explained that “closed means closed,” that if the parks were shut down, there would no public access and rangers would still patrol them. That would protect park structures from vandalism, wildlife habitat from pot gardens, stop illegal camps, reduce fire danger, and prevent trail erosion from illegal motorcycle and bike use. So with this semi-coded message, the public was put on notice: “You’d better be outraged or you’re going to lose these parks.”

Coleman, who has been effective in both Republican and Democratic administrations, never ranted and raved over the original proposal to cripple State Parks. As a director, she instead explained the economics; as a parent, she pointed out the impact to families.

This kind of leadership makes her the best Parks director in 30 years and probably the best since the legendary William Mott in the 1960s and ’70s. .

For the upcoming summer, Coleman said the high price of gas has had a direct effect on park visitation. Numbers are up for parks near urban areas, but visits are down at the more distant parks.

One of the best examples is in eastern Shasta County at MacArthur-Burney Falls State Park near Burney. With cabins, excellent campgrounds, Burney Falls, Lake Britton, a small marina, fishing for trout, bass and crappie, streamside hikes and the Pacific Crest Trail, this is a great family destination for a summer vacation. For the annual trout opener, it also makes a great base camp, with a great stretch of the Pit River located just below the Lake Britton Dam (which I wrote about Thursday). Though camp reservations are solid for summer, visitation has been down 40 percent since the trout opener there.

This example is a statewide trend and means nearby Bay Area parks are more important than ever.

At the same time, it means the new governor’s budget is a landmark precedent. Even in lean times for tax dollars, he got the message: “Keep yer mitts off the state parks.”

“The Great Outdoors With Tom Stienstra” airs Sundays at 10 a.m. on KMAX-31 Sacramento.

parks granted reprieve by governor

These state parks were on the governor’s list for closure but now will stay open.

bay area

— Tomales Bay State Park: Gem-like park located on shore of Tomales Bay, with Hearts Desire Beach, Native American artifacts and recreated MiWok Village.

— Portola Redwoods, San Mateo County: Gorgeous redwood park near La Honda with headwaters of Pescadero Creek, campground, hiking trails and bike routes.

— Candlestick Point State Recreation Area, San Francisco: Shoreline trails provide pretty views of San Francisco Bay, access to fishing piers and fitness course.

— Benicia State Recreation Area, Solano County: A bluff-top picnic site and adjacent trail give visitors gorgeous views of Carquinez Strait.

— Henry W. Coe State Park, Santa Clara County: 87,000 acres, with three access points an hour’s drive apart; 350 miles of ranch roads and trails for biking, hiking, horseback riding and camping, and more than 100 ponds for bass fishing and swimming. After last year’s huge wildlfire, watching the burned landscape explode back to life each spring will be a landmark event for years.


— Clear Lake State Park, Lake County: Park’s location on the west side of the lake, along a tule-lined shore with deep coves, bays and points, is perfect as a base camp for a fishing trip for bass, bluegill, crappie and catfish.

— Fremont Peak State Historic Park, San Benito County: The half-hour hike to 3,169-foot Fremont Peak provides a stunning panorama of Monterey Bay to the west and the Hollister/Bolsa Valley to the east.

— Malakoff Diggins State Historic Park, Nevada County: Malakoff Diggins is one of the best preserved examples of a gold mining operation in the state; campground is another plus.

— Others of note: Anderson Marsh State Historic Park; George Hatfield State Recreation Area.


— Armstrong Redwoods State Park and Austin Creek State Recreation Area, Sonoma County: These adjoining parks provide surprise redwoods, hiking and camping north of the Russian River.

— Del Norte Coast Redwoods State Park, Del Norte County: With secluded beach, cliffs, forests, streams and campgrounds, a great layover for vacationers on 101.

— Grizzly Creek Redwoods State Park, Humboldt County: You can usually find a campsite here, even on weekends, and the walk into the Rathert Grove is a gem.


— Limekiln State Park, Mon
terey County: Overlooked because it is south of Big Sur off Highway 1, but a little-known trail is routed through redwoods to a spectacular 100-foot waterfall.

— Manchester State Beach, Sonoma County: A stunning beach-front park located near the Garcia River and Point Arena Lighthouse.

— Morro Strand State Beach, San Luis Obispo County: An ocean-front park north of Morro Bay with access to miles of beach and nearby fishing, sea kayaking and wildlife watching.

— Montana de Oro State Park, San Luis Obispo County: This wildland park is located near Point Buchon south of Morro Bay, with wilderness hiking with stunning ocean views.

— Also of note: Fort Ord Dunes State Park.

sierra nevada

— Plumas-Eureka State Park, Plumas County: Beautiful 5,500-acre park, with featured hike from pretty Eureka Lake to 7,447-foot Eureka Peak, plus first-come, first-served campsites.


— Mount San Jacinto State Park, Riverside County: From the desert floor, the Palm Springs Aerial Tramway rises a mile into the sky to the Desert View Trail, a must-do “10.”

19. May 2008 by Arrian
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