By Elisa Stancil
During this time of outrage over California State Parks hidden $54 million dollars in unreported income, we at Jack London State Park and Valley of the Moon Natural History Association (VMNHA) want to go on record in full support of the Parks Alliance of Sonoma County, the California State Parks Foundation and our hundreds of volunteers, members and donors who have allowed us to keep treasured public lands open!
We agree with Assemblyman Jared Huffman that the opacity, the fortress like mentality, and the dysfunction within the department have made it difficult to assess the true cost/benefit of running any of the five state parks that have been adopted through creative measures here in our county.
But let’s not lose sight of the most significant fact: these thousands of acres comprised by Austin Creek, Sugarloaf Ridge, Annadel, Petaluma Adobe and Jack London State Historic Park are public lands, in public trust.
Through the transparent, energetic, ethical efforts of the Parks Alliance and the California State Parks Foundation these parks are open for business, offering, in many cases, more services, experiences, programs and open hours than ever!
These monies, hidden and unexplained, and the curious motives behind those who hid them, do not present a solution for any park in our county at this time. More than ever it is important for all of us to focus on what we are doing right, here in our county, for wildlife, watershed, recreation, culture, and history!
I want to congratulate the efforts of our visionary Parks Alliance and invite all readers to learn more about each of our parks, county, state and city, and come out and celebrate the fact that our county is a leader in park solutions.
I also want to thank our many volunteers and donors who are making our inaugural season of park operation a true success. Visit our website at www.jacklondonpark.com to learn more about programs and events in our park and www.parksalliance.com for the inspiring story of the Alliance and the future of parks in our county.
And finally, grants from California State Parks Foundation over the years have improved all of our parks and the visitor experience throughout California. We commend all who believe in the power of nature and the value of history and go forward with renewed vigor!
Elisa Stancil is the Vice President of Valley of the Moon Natural History Association, and a member of the Parks Alliance and California State Parks Foundation.