This is a good but sad story , I hope you read it !!
In 10 years, the price of this campsite at Jedediah Smith Redwoods has gone from $12 to $35 Photo Tom Stienstra/The Chronicle
In its new mission to extract every dollar possible out of park visitors, California State Parks is pricing itself out of reach of many, starting with young families, city kids and young adults.
So is the Department of Fish and Wildlife, which charges the highest-priced fishing licenses in America and yet is providing the public with less than ever this summer.
Ten years ago, it cost $2 to park and $12 to camp at state parks.
Now it’s $10 to park and $35 and up to camp.
State Parks wants to add electronic self-pay stations, where you pay by credit card. That would allow them to add new pay sites without adding staff, and also add specialty fees, such as for “premium campsites.”
My boys, for example, your basic cash-strapped young adults in the 20s, are not going to pay those prices, but simply go elsewhere where it’s free or far cheaper. Many are in the same boat.
At the peak of the camping season, mid-July, the first six popular state parks I checked Tuesday morning had campsites available for this weekend and throughout the next two weeks: Big Basin Redwoods in the Santa Cruz Mountains, Samuel P. Taylor on Sir Francis Drake in Marin, Salt Point on the Sonoma Coast, Mount Tamalpais State Park in Marin, Emerald Bay State Park near South Lake Tahoe and Oroville State Recreation Area in the Sierra foothills.
Ten years ago, same week, all but Oroville had been booked full for months.
[Another four I checked were booked full for this weekend: Butano Redwoods near Pescadero, Prairie Creek Redwoods near Orick in the Redwood Empire, Tahoe State Recreation Area and D.L. Bliss State Park at Lake Tahoe.]
The price hikes are the result of the budget put together by the governor and legislature, which has cut the general fund contribution to State Parks from 91 percent to 29 percent. In the process, Parks cranked up the rates and they are pricing out the very people they are supposed to serve.
The parks were created to provide public access, recreation and camping to beautiful parks to anybody, regardless of their ability to pay. The government violates that ethic each day.
So has the Department of Fish and Wildlife. It plants fewer trout than ever, despite a legislative mandate to put one of every $3 into trout plants. This year, the cost of a license was jacked up to $45.03 and $59.97 with a two-rod stamp, more if you fish for the bay for sturgeon or rivers for salmon or steelhead.
There’s no way that young adults over 16, city people not oriented to the outdoors, or young families in rural areas are going to pay this. It’s too expensive for them and that’s all there is to it. And if people don’t feel they have a chance to catch a fish, they are not going to buy the license.
If you want a blueprint how to exclude the public from state parks, access, camping and fishing opportunities, these two state agencies are showing the rest of America how to pull it off.
Tom Stienstra is The San Francisco Chronicle’s outdoors writer. E-mail: firstname.lastname@example.org. Twitter: @StienstraTom