Dear California State Parks Department…

Mendo Discussion Lists
Thanks to Janie Sheppard

Dear California State Parks Department,

Due to an increasing number of ridiculous money-grubbing maneuvers and audacious authority oversteps on your part, I think it appropriate to cut your funding by at least 80%, if not tender your total termination. How can we the public/ citizenry go about this, how can we have any say in how our funds are spent, and how can we lobby against your self-serving schemes?

You tax us in every way you can, finding particular perverse delight in making up inane laws, and then fining us for breaking them. There is an extensive menu of infractions that are heftily fined offenses, many of which seem pointedly geared towards harassing the homeless. I was shocked to learn of the exorbitant fine for “sleeping in a vehicle” which is not only enforced on State Parks property (including parking lots or along the side of the road), but also in the entire City of Fort Bragg or anywhere in Mendocino, among most other places. Guess what happens if one is down on one’s luck (sleeping in a car), gets caught harmlessly snoozing inside a vehicle, and can’t pay the ticket fee? Well, the fine increases by 150% every 21 days, until the offending car is impounded and the offending sleeper faces jail time. This is definitely why you need to carry guns and enforce unethical laws outside the area of your intended jurisdiction: to put homeless people in jail where they ! belong! (If you agree with this last statement, you should be taken out back and have common sense and decency pistol-whipped back into your head.)

This recent stunt of yours to raze down the blackberries and hemlock on the Mendocino Headlands is a poor use of public funds to destroy some of the country charm and character of the town. Your direct reasons for this were to dislodge the homeless who sought shelter in the bushes, and to eradicate an invasive species… oh yeah, and hemlock is deadly poisonous, and was used to kill Greek philosophers, notably Socrates. To that, I and others have responded: CA Parks agents are more invasive than blackberries. And to those up in arms about poisonous plants: don’t make me creep into your garden at night and rip up all your potatoes, peppers, tomatoes, and eggplants, because obviously you are TOO IDIOTIC to be trusted not to eat the leaves of plants in the nightshade family, among other deadly poisonous hazards you’re harbouring, of which you might “accidentally” eat shovel-fulls.

A friend of a friend had one (1) beer on Big River Beach recently, and reportedly a park ranger followed him up Comptche-Ukiah Road two miles before pulling him over and ticketing him for possessing an open alcoholic beverage container on State Parks property. How is it that people can loiter on State Parks property sipping beer and wine in front of the Mendocino Music Festival tent? I’m not complaining about that, just wondering why that’s permissible, while sharing wine with one’s sweetie on the beach while watching the sunset is illegal.

I’m amused that you are loudly threatening the closing of many of our parks, while simultaneously demanding more money to fund your “system”. What exactly are we paying for? A toilet, some parking lot maintenance, the occasional trash removal? That doesn’t cost tens of thousands of dollars each year per park. Campsites cost $35/night; how are you not rolling in the dough? Here’s an idea: refund us our money, give us back the land we trustingly handed you, and watch us successfully steward our own sacred spaces. (WITHOUT YOU. LEAVE. GET OUT.)

Yesterday, while we the people were out for bike rides and dog runs along the Haul Road along Big River, a “Peace Officer” blundered around the corner in a sparkling new white truck, probably going about 6 or 7 miles an hour. That’s not very fast on a designated roadway for vehicles, but it sure seems speedy when one is on foot, about four miles up the path, nonchalantly taking in the “Legacy of Logging” views, and not expecting a large machine to come snorting through the underbrush, taking up the entire road and scraping the foliage on both sides. We had to step aside into the poison oak to let the truck get around us, lest we get threshed under the tires. And why, may I inquire, were Parks “Peace Officers” out disturbing the peace? To protect and preserve? Looking for more homeless to roust? Out for a joy ride to guzzle taxpayer-patronized petrol? I’d so much rather funnel our funds to the local Volunteer Fire Departments for the occasional rescue than have the moneys spent on preemptive monitoring of our (attempted) peaceful enjoyment of OUR LANDS.

Today, I tried to take the world’s most well-behaved dog (on a leash, even) for a walk up the Van Damme State Park Fern Creek Trail. When we got to the trailhead from the campsite, there was a sign saying “NO DOGS ON TRAIL” so we turned around and stalked back to the kiosk. I asked the reasons for disallowing dogs on the trail, and as a response was handed a small pamphlet
describing why it was incredibly necessary to have one’s dog ON A LEASH. That doesn’t even make sense (leash required != no dogs allowed), and besides, one can walk from the Van Damme Pygmy Forest parking lot with one’s dog down to the campsite, so why can’t one walk the same trail with a dog in the opposite direction? Where do you suggest I take my precious pooch for a
relaxing jog– the stupidly-celebrated poop park recommended by zero out of ten veterinarians on account of diseases and contaminants?

But THIS. THIS is the little piece of hemlock wrapped in a digitalis leaf wrapped in an insult wrapped in local injustice: you want to charge us $8 per day to use OUR beaches, OUR forests, OUR open spaces?!

Are our local entities in any decision-making capacity also enraged?

“Board member Beth Perrell said she could not support approval of the posts and signs as they are. ‘I feel very strongly that the proposed work is not in harmony and character in town,’ Perrell said. The permit was continued to August’s meeting with the request that Rex come back with graphics of the proposed signs in place and with proposed skirting material for the iron ranger post.” …Feels strongly that the fees themselves were not in harmony and in the character of the town? Oh, no, they just want to bicker about how to cloak the brilliant new iron rangers with some quaint dead tree parts. You know, to please the tourists. Just in case the day use fee didn’t already leave them grinning from ear to ear all the way home, making joyous noseprints in the rear windows of their RVs and SUVs, while watching the charming village appear to recede into the distance.

No money? No problem; let’s just STOP PAYING YOU! I vote for radical self reliance and community-based problem solving in lieu of administration-heavy borganisms like CA State Parks that can’t even field their own endless stream of tickets and fines.

In conclusion, it would be really sweet if you would voluntarily step aside, step back, and step away… before I pick up a pitchfork and advance against your unwelcome invasion.

Bear Hugs and Tick Bites,


One Comment

(If local communities can be much better stewards of the public lands where they live, why don’t they assert there rights to do so?)


A high-ranking official at the California Department of Parks and Recreation carried out a secret vacation buyout program last year for himself and other headquarters staff, according
to an internal audit, former employees and other documents obtained by The Sacramento Bee.

The buyouts cost more than $271,000, said Richard Stapler, a spokesman for the California Natural Resources Agency, which oversees the parks department. The money was spent even as the department was planning the unprecedented closure of 70 state parks due to budget cuts.

The program, in which employees were allowed to sell unused vacation time back to the state, was not approved by the California Department of Human Resources, as required by state law, said Lynelle Jolley, a spokeswoman for the human resources department. Due to the state’s precarious budget condition, she said, no vacation buyouts have been approved by the agency since 2007. “They definitely did not authorize this,” Stapler confirmed.

To avoid a paper trail, the buyout requests were submitted in some cases only on Post-It
notes, not official forms, according to an internal parks department audit obtained by The Bee.