A group of volunteers builds and fixes fences at China Camp State Park

Building fences at China Camp, hoping for closure reprieve

With less than a month before the scheduled July 1 state park closures, there’s a lot of last-minute effort underway to save our outdoor spaces and find money for the $22 million shortfall. Lawmakers have proposals out there ranging from creating new vanity license plates to generate revenue to letting parks tap into existing money surpluses for things like road repair and other needs.

And on a park-by-park level, many groups are empowering their communities and volunteers to save their parks, like the Friends of China Camp organization which is working to take over the upkeep of that park.

Over the last several years, I have been a supporter of the California State Parks Foundation, a non-profit that is fighting to save our parks. They have been a great resource to keep tabs on the official list and which of the 70 parks has definitely been given a reprieve. They also make it easy for you to tell your lawmakers where you stand on the park closures.

Having said all that, there’s no way to know how the chips will fall in the next few weeks. Will there still be closures? How many? I like so many others wish I could do more to impact the future of our parks. That’s why last week I volunteered for the first time with the Park Champions program. We headed to China Camp State Park and built and repaired fences as well as cleared some of the trail. The group of volunteers came from all over the Bay Area (even as far as Vacaville) to give a little something back to the parks we love so much. Friends of China Camp were there as well having helped prepare for the volunteer day by hauling the lumber up to the trails in the days before the work day and then diving in with the rest of us that day. All in all it was hard work, but fun and I would definitely do it again.

There are more volunteer opportunities coming up all over California, including Candlestick Park in San Francisco next week. Check them out and sign up here.

Have you ever volunteered at your local parks? What did you do on the trails? Talk about it in the comments below.