Yesterday in my Rotary Club meeting, we heard a speaker from the Friends of Santa Cruz State Parks give a talk. It was a great presenation, and it really struck a chord for me. To me, what makes Santa Cruz a truly remarkable place – aside from the people who live here, of course – is the glory of the natural surroundings, and many of these surroundings are protected by the State Park system. Long ago, I had heard that the county of Santa Cruz has more state parks than any other county in the State of California. Yesterdays’ speaker did not mention that, but it’s seems right to me, even though Santa Cruz is the smallest county in the state of California, after the City/County of San Francisco.
The speaker did mention, though, that 20% of Santa Cruz county land is State Park land, and that 50% of the coastline is State Park land. People continuously wonder, “Why is it that real estate in Santa Cruz costs so much?” When you consider how very little of it is really available for purchase, especially along the coast, and when you couple the demand for private property in such close proximity to large swaths of incredibly gorgeous, pristine public lands, you begin to appreciate the forces that shape the local real estate market.
What’s amazing to me is, despite the fact that I’ve lived in Santa Cruz for fifteen years or so, is that I still have not visited all the state parks that we are blessed with! The Friends of Santa Cruz State Parks left a big huge glossy brochure – well, really, a mini-magazine – that includes a list of all the State Parks in Santa Cruz County…and it seems I’ve yet to visit one of them – Palm State Beach, in the very southern end of the county. Also, there’s the Santa Cruz Mission, which I have tried to go into several times, but I’ve never found it to be open.
And that’s what Friends of Santa Cruz State Parks is all about. Their purpose is to raise awareness in the community about what’s going on with our State Parks, about the challenges that face the parks, e.g., the lack of funding that keeps the parks open for visitors. If you love the parks as much as I do, I encourage you to visit their web site, and if you’re feeling frisky, make a donation!