On March 3rd, Team-Ducky and BHouston21 took a trip to Albany, joining ~200 other people in protesting the governor’s closing of 50+ state parks and historic sites. The protestors were a diverse mix of people, a true snapshot of our citizenry. There were children there, barely as tall as the handmade signs they were holding– but old enough to know the parks they like to hike and play in were being closed. There were senior citizens from Harlem there, fighting to keep their parks open and their senior programs operating. The crowd contained history buffs dressed in period costumes, anarchists and hippies, politicians, ministers, students, hikers, geocachers, war veterans, and an even mix of men and women. All these people on a Wednesday in March came to express their ire and dismay at these proposed cuts.
We heard from the Riddell family, who donated their land to the state, land that is now Riddell Park near Cooperstown. (A park Team-Ducky has hiked a number of times and is planning some great caches for.) They were appalled that the state would take their gift and treat it with such disrespect, abandoning their responsibility for the land and their responsibility to the people of this state. We heard from a veteran of the war in Iraq. After receiving a brain injury while serving his country, he was sent home to heal. Daily walks in Thatcher Park were instrumental in his recovery. Thatcher Park is on the list of parks to be closed.
New York State is in serious financial trouble (as many states and countries are) and cuts do need to be made. However, cutting the money to our parks is foolishly short-sighted and historically unprecedented. Even in the Great Depression, we did not close our parks. (In fact, we used the Civilian Conservation Corps to give people work and make improvements to our parks.) The parks generate revenue for the state and bring revenue to surrounding communities (stores, restaurants, hotels, etc.) Parks create jobs, closing parks would cut jobs. And finally, and most importantly, in times of recession, in times of high anxiety and stress, people NEED their parks. They need a place to go to recharge their spirits and heal their souls.
The National Park system was a revolutionary idea started in this country. The state of New York led the way in creating state parks and state forests. The largest state park in the country is in New York. This is a legacy to be proud of…not one to betray.
Additional Note: There is an additional list of parks that may face closing or reduced services if the governor needs more money to close the budget gap. Glimmerglass Park, home to 19 geocaches, is on that list.
Another Note: Some have said this is just a scare tactic to force some cooperation on the budget. Unfortunately, this is not an empty threat. State Parks have already started to refuse to take reservations for campsites next year and some reservations that have already been made are being cancelled. This action is being taken before the budget is even voted on by our representatives.
(UU Jester, Chef Ducky, and BHouston all make brief appearances in the video. Can you pick us out?)