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Hilltromper Comments to Parks Forward Commission

Delivered Sept. 9, 2013 at the Parks Forward Initiative workshop session in Santa Cruz.

My name is Traci Hukill. My husband and I have an outdoor recreation website called Hilltromper.

I'm here today to ask the commission, as it moves forward, to consider viewing state parks access as a public health issue. In a time of huge health care costs and rampant obesity- and stress-related illness, state parks provide a place for physical exercise as well as mental and spiritual rejuvenation. That point made, I have two requests.

The first is that the commission make a top priority of keeping parks access affordable. As others here have mentioned, $10 to take a two-hour hike on what is supposed to be public land is too much money. If state parks winds up ramping up enforcement on parking or access fees, then I hope it does so ONLY in concert with lowering those fees. I would also suggest investigating zoned passes—for example, a year's worth of entrance to 5 parks for $35.

My second request is that the commission consider broadening parks usage, through zoning or conditional use permits, to allow more events and popular activities like mountain biking and, yes, off-leash dog use, either in certain places or at certain times.

[Added on the fly at the dais, so not verbatim] The other thing I would like to suggest is that parks partner with local transportation agencies to provide ways to get to parks. Parks are, by definition, far from urban centers and hard to get to.

The more people use the parks, the healthier we become as a society, and the more support the parks will have at the ballot box and at the pay station.

Read For State Parks, A Whole New Direction