Last weekend’s talk has gotten positive and negative response. On September 16, Jim Liles of Lazy J Rodeo, a Facebook page with 5000+ fans posted on Facebook, criticizing our most recent talk on CA parks as a public legacy. If you haven’t seen the talk, check it out here. My response to Jim is added at the bottom of this post, as well as Jim’s original comments.
Parks Advocacy and Pluralism
“I don’t only want to connect to the people that already agree with me. It’s also important to connect with people who haven’t quite yet.”
I felt it was important to respond to Jim not to ‘set him right’, but because it is an example of the bigger problem at work here. We accept a plurality of opinions, and respect Jim’s as well. Jim is hardly the first to see Folk4Parks as an obdurate voice for state controlled process and less individual rights. This is, in fact, the opposite of our position. Nothing in our talk expressed this idea. So why did Jim get us wrong? Probably because he’s fed up with too many impractical liberal groups with radical agendas and doesn’t have the energy to explore and understand each anymore. Jim, we get it, though we wish you would have read further.
What’s Important Here? More important than Jim’s criticism and our response, is the problem of perception. How do we begin to disabuse people from the notion that nature and parks advocates are necessarily radical interest groups? I don’t only want to connect to the people that already agree with me, I want to connect with people who haven’t quite yet. I want to better learn how to send the message to others that we are not supporters of parks at all costs. That the economy, jobs and individual rights are just as important to our organization. A sustainable parks system co-exists with other state concerns. Is all hope lost for understanding across a political divide? I know the Folk4Parks group is incredibly bi-partisan, so your ideas for the future are welcome.
Our Response to Lazy J Rodeo
Folk4Parks does not, and has never been an advocate for limiting access to CA Parks, nor the creation of walled-off wilderness areas, nor do we work with organizations who have this agenda.
Our message is the opposite. Currently, CA State Parks are one the best and most economically attractive ways to enjoy horseback riding, ATVs and many other recreational activities. We want to keep parks open for people. I’ll remind you that CA parks are currently leaving the hands of the federal and state government. Moving forward, private organizations and non-profits will be stepping in to manage more of the park system.
We don’t know about the politics of Montana, but we believe both open rangeland and parks, are both crucial to California. Rangeland is the most extensive type of land in CA; 40m acres of the state’s 101m acres. By contrast, parks account for 1.4 million acres. Most of this is shore and coastline.
We value our ranchland, which provides more than 26,000 jobs and generates $6bn annually, the 5th leading agricultural commodity in the state. Parks also support our state. 70 million visits annually are made to California State Parks, generating $4bn in revenues through local economies surrounding state parks.
This is what we stand for. We have no hidden agenda. Make sure you actually quote what I’ve actually said next time you want to accuse me of standing for something I do not believe in.
Christopher Grant Ward,