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NTA Endorses California Proposition 21 to Fund ParksAugust 12, 2010 By: George Dooley
The National Tour Association (NTA) has endorsed Proposition 21, the November 2 statewide ballot measure that will provide a stable and adequate funding source for California’s state parks and beaches. NTA, representing a wide-range of tour related businesses, has more than 570 members in California alone. Prop 21 would include a new $18 surcharge on vehicles.
“California’s tourism industry depends on the visits that the state’s parks and beaches attract each year to drive their businesses,” said NTA president Lisa Simon. “Without proper funding for maintenance and repairs, these once pristine outdoor attractions would no longer be an inviting destination for tourists. Prop. 21 is a solution that will ensure state parks and beaches have the stable funding.”
A recent study by California State University Sacramento found that state park visitors spend an average of $57.63 in neighboring communities each time they visit a state park or beach. Annually, state park tourists spend $4.32 billion in park-related expenditures. In fact, state park and beach visitors generate so much local economic activity that every dollar spent on state parks creates another $2.35 for the state treasury, NTA says.
Chronic underfunding of state parks has caused them to accumulate a $1.3 billion backlog in needed maintenance and repairs, NTA reports. Twice in the past two years, state parks were on the brink of being shut down. Last year, nearly 150 state parks were shut down part-time or suffered deep service reductions because of budget cuts, and more park closure proposals and budget cuts are expected this year. Thousands of scenic acres are closed to the public because of reductions in park rangers, and crime has nearly tripled, NTA says.
Approval of Prop. 21 will provide California vehicles with free, year-round day-use access to state parks and beaches, in exchange for a new $18 surcharge. This new surcharge will be assessed as part of California’s annual vehicle registration. All California vehicles will be subject to the surcharge, except larger commercial vehicles, mobile homes and permanent trailers. Funds from the surcharge will be placed in a trust fund dedicated specifically to state parks and wildlife conservation, which cannot legally be used for other purposes.
NTA has joined a wide-ranging coalition of interests supporting Prop. 21, including the California Travel Industry Association, California Teachers Association, California Lodging Industry Association, The Nature Conservancy, California Action for Healthy Kids, California State Park Rangers Association, Surfrider Foundation and the California State Parks Foundation.