Tuesday, May 24, 2011

Paddle these places -- while you still can

(News update: No holiday for parks, some closures hit snag.)

NorCal Yak focuses on great kayaking destinations in California. Unfortunately, this post highlights some places that may no longer be available – so if you want to paddle them, better go soon. As part of state government cutbacks, the California Parks Department recently announced plans to close 70 state parks by July 2012.

Sea otters relax off Moss Landing State Beach -- it's on the hit list 

 NorCal Yak has identified at least a dozen parks and recreation areas on the hit list that will directly affect kayaking. In some cases, developed launch sites will be padlocked. In other situations, the impact will be indirect – kayakers may still be able to get to the water, but the state beach or area that provided the prime attraction will be closed. Determined paddlers may still find access, but they could face trespassing charges, not to mention safety risks.

Of course, nothing is certain. For years, governors and legislators have engaged in political posturing and ignored a tsunami of red ink that loomed over the state budget. But now, it looks like we’re headed toward specific, major cuts in state programs such as parks. Last fall, an initiative to fund state parks with higher vehicle fees failed in the general election. If you want to help continue the fight to save parks, join the California State Parks Foundation.

Meanwhile, given the grim outlook, don’t delay your kayak trips. And take plenty of photos – so that some day in the future, you might show other paddlers what they missed. A sample from the chopping block:

Mono Lake Tufa State Preserve. The area was established to preserve the spectacular "tufa towers," calcium-carbonate spires and knobs formed by interaction of freshwater springs and alkaline lake water. Mono Lake is a majestic body of water covering about 65 square miles and more than  one million years old, one of the oldest lakes in North America.

Tomales Bay State Park. You’ll still be able to launch from county-run parks, but closing this spectacular setting – rich with history, wildlife, and marine diversity – would end day use at Heart’s Desire Beach and other favorite spots.

Brannan Island State Recreation Area. Boat launch and camping facilities are already experiencing cutbacks here in the heart of the Sacramento-San Joaquin Delta, one of the great waterway recreation areas in the world.

China Camp State Park. Nestled along the shore of San Pablo Bay, the park offers beautiful views of the waterfront. In addition to trails, picnicking and camping, features include an extensive intertidal salt marsh, meadow, and oak habitats. The park has historical significance – a Chinese shrimp-fishing village thrived on this site in the 1880s.

Check this map for a complete list of proposed state park closures. California sea kayaking river kayaking lake kayaking California state park closing