Tuesday, March 25, 2008

Taking it Easy...

I wish that was the case!

This will be a week of "light" blogging for me. My little family is getting ready to leave bright and early tomorrow morning for Santa Clara to attend the California State Society Daughters of the American Revolution's (DAR) 100th State Conference.

(My husband and daughter are coming with me for the first time, so this promises to be an interesting week, to say the least.)

I've been busy with several projects related to the Conference for the past few weeks - which is why I've been so quiet.

My intent is to post some pictures during our trip. It's possible that I may not get them posted until we return on Monday, but I have good intentions. Really, I do.

So, if you happen to stop by anyway, please say hello! And have a wonderful week!

____________________

For you Lompocans out there (and anyone else who is interested), please check out the article in the March 24, 2008 issue of The Lompoc Record titled "The March to Save La Purisima Mission."

For more ideas on how you can help save La Purisima Mission from closure, please read Sending Out an S.O.S.

Saturday, March 22, 2008

Easter Blessings

We were blessed in this household about two years ago by a beautiful, little angel. She has brought us immeasurable joy and happiness.


Photos by Elizabeth O'Neal, March 22, 2008

I would like to wish everyone reading this a very happy Easter.

May your blessings on Easter and every day be plentiful.

Carnival of Central and Eastern European Genealogy, 5th Edition, is Posted!

If it's getting close to dinnertime where you are, as it is here on the U.S. West Coast, take a mouth-watering peek at Jessica's Genejournal for some meal-time inspiration!

Jessica has posted the 5th Edition of the Carnival of Central and Eastern European Genealogy, which features traditional dishes from the regions of central and eastern Europe.

My carnival contribution is here: My Husband's Favorite Slovak Dish, featuring the ever-popular pirohy with three different fillings.

The next Carnival will be a carousel, meaning that bloggers can choose their own topic, and the deadline for submissions is April 27. You can submit your article here.

Mmmm... time now for something to eat!

Friday, March 21, 2008

My Husband's Favorite Slovak Dish

To the best of my knowledge, my family is either Irish, Scottish, English, German, French, French-Canadian, or some flavor of "Heinz 57" (having been in America since before the Mayflower landed).

So, when I read of the Carnival of Central and Eastern European Genealogy hosted at Jessica's Genejournal, I knew that I wouldn't have anything to contribute pertaining to my own family.

However, my non-blogging husband's maternal family is Slovak, so I thought he might come up with something, especially since the topic was near and dear to his heart: Food! More specifically, "traditional dishes of our ancestors from Central and Eastern Europe."

While on a recent business trip to Florida, my husband consulted with his mother to find a favorite family recipe. She loaned him a copy of The Anniversary Slovak-American Cook Book, edited by The First Catholic Slovak Ladies Association (Tylka Bros. Press; 1st edition, 1952), which was given to her by her mother, Anna Marie (Pado) Macek, in 1974.

My husband selected the recipe for Pirohy found on page 99. He remembers his grandmother and great-grandmother making these frequently, and says that this was one of his favorite Slovak dishes. He particularly liked the potato filling... but not so much the cabbage.


PIROHY

1 cup flour
1 egg
1/4 teaspoon salt
About 4 tablespoons cold water
Brown melted butter and pour over pirohy when served

Mix all ingredients with enough water to make a medium soft dough. Knead well, then roll out until thin. Cut in squares to make 50 pinohy. Place on each square 1 teaspoon filling. Fold in half to make triangles. Pinch edges well to keep filling from escaping. Drop in salted water and cook until all pirohy rise to the top of the
water. Then cook for 5 minutes longer. When done, pour in a small amount of cold water and strain. Place in serving dish and pour over butter that has been melted and slightly browned. Eat while hot, and if desired, add more salt.

Cheese Filling for Pirohy

1/2 cup dry cottage cheese
1 egg yolk
1 teaspoon butter
Pinch of salt

Combine ingredients and mix thoroughly.

Potato Filling

One large potato cooked and mashed. Add one tablespoon melted, browned butter and salt to taste. A few dry crushed peppermint leaves may be added. However, this is optional.

[NOTE: my husband's mother wrote "ugh" next to the part about peppermint leaves, so I'm guessing that wasn't a popular addition!]

Cabbage Filling

One pound head of cabbage chopped fine, to which add 1 teaspoon salt and set aside to stand for several minutes. Then squeeze out water from cabbage and fry in one tablespoon butter that has been allowed to brown. Add one teaspoon sugar, and stir occasionally to keep from burning. Fry until golden brown.

~Sophie Gresko, Whiting, Indiana


Copyright © 2008 by Elizabeth O'Neal

Getting Ready for the Ball

A dear friend of mine has been making a dress for my daughter to wear for a very special occasion next week.

My daughter was very excited by her new dress, and wanted to twirl and twirl, making the skirt float up in the air.

I won't ruin the surprise by telling you what the occasion is until next week, but let me just say that Mommy is going to be very proud... and will probably cry. A lot.


Photo by Elizabeth O'Neal, March 20, 2008


Photo by Elizabeth O'Neal, March 20, 2008


Photo by Elizabeth O'Neal, March 20, 2008


Photo by Elizabeth O'Neal, March 20, 2008


Photo by Elizabeth O'Neal, March 20, 2008

Copyright © 2008 by Elizabeth O'Neal

Tuesday, March 18, 2008

44th Edition of the Carnival of Genealogy is Posted!

Hop on over to Jasia's Creative Gene to read the terrific entries in the latest edition of the Carnival of Genealogy.

Being that March is National Women's History Month, the topic of this edition was "A Tribute to Women."

My own post is here: My Mother, My Hero.

If you haven't already done so, be sure to honor some of the outstanding women in your family this month.

Flowers are always good. Or chocolate.

____________________

The topic for the next edition of the Carnival of Genealogy will be: Cars as stars!

Next to purchasing a house, a "new set of wheels" was the next most significant purchase for many families. What car played a starring roll in your family history and what roll did it play? Did your family build cars or tinker with them? Did they take "Sunday drives"? What was your first car? Was there a hangout that you frequented in your car? How far back can you document your family's automotive genealogy?

The deadline for submissions is April 1st. Submit your blog article to the next edition of the Carnival of Genealogy using our carnival submission form. Past posts and future hosts can be found on the blog carnival index page.

Monday, March 17, 2008

Happy St. Patrick's Day!


Lá Fhéile Pádraig!

What a St. Patrick's Day treat to find the 4th Edition of the Carnival of Irish Heritage and Culture posted at Small-Leaved Shamrock this morinng!

If you aren't feeling green enough today (or even if you are), be sure to check out the terrific job Lisa has done rounding up these great posts.

My own post is here: Walking Tall with an Irish Shillelagh.

I'm definitely going to have to order the book The St. Patrick's Day Shillelagh by Janet Nolan that Lisa talks about at A Light That Shines Again. It sounds like a wonderful story to share with my daughter when she gets a little older.
____________________

The 5th edition of the Carnival of Irish Heritage & Culture will honor the beauty of the Irish language with a focus on Irish Gaelic names and words.

  • Has the charm of the name of a place in Ireland always called to you to visit someday?
  • As a child did you secretly wish you had the Irish name of a great-grandparent instead of the name you were born with?
  • Do you have a story to tell about someone with an Irish surname?
  • Is there an Irish proverb that you have always loved to let slide off of your tongue in its original language?
Join us for the 5th edition of the Carnival of Irish Heritage & Culture. The only prerequisite is that your post must tie in with our focus on the Irish Gaelic language. Posts for this edition of the carnival are due April 27. Submit your entries here. The carnival will be posted at A light that shines again on St. Ciarán's Day, April 30.

____________________

May you have love that never ends,
lots of money, and lots of friends.
Health be yours, whatever you do,
and may God send many blessings to you!

~Old Irish Blessing


Copyright © 2008 by Elizabeth O'Neal

Sunday, March 16, 2008

Happy Birthday, Mom


(click photo for slideshow)

My mother, Judith Ann Dagle, was born on March 16, 1941, in Sioux City, Woodbury Co., Iowa.

She was the second daughter of George Marvin Dagle (12 Sep 1912 - 12 Aug 1951) and Mary Margaret McGraw (09 May 1917 - 24 Feb 2004).

Judy grew up in Tacoma, Washington, and San Bernardino, California. She graduated from St. Bernardine's High School, San Bernardino, California, in 1959.

She died on July 27, 2001, in Lancaster, Los Angeles Co., California.

She would have been 67 years old today.

A devoted mother and daughter, Judy is greatly missed by all who loved her.

She taught me how to love, and I hope that I am half the mother to my daughter that she was to me.

I promised myself I wouldn't cry any more this week, so I'm just going to leave it at that.

Happy birthday, Mom.


Copyright © 2008 by Elizabeth O'Neal

Friday, March 14, 2008

Walking Tall With An Irish Shillelagh


My Daughter, the Irish Princess, Models my Mother's Shillelagh (click to enlarge).
Photographs by Elizabeth O'Neal, March 13, 2008.

Before my mother died, she frequently had to use a cane to get around. She hated canes, as I'm sure most people who have to use them do.

So her full-blooded Irish mother - my grandmother, Mary Margaret McGraw - bought her a shillelagh: a handmade Irish walking stick.

My mother never used her shillelagh because it wasn't sized properly for her, and canes that are used for medical purposes need to be the right size in order to be functional.

This lovely shillelagh has been sitting in the corner behind the door of my office since we moved to this house a few years ago. I had never really given it a thought... until my daughter found it - and started beating on things with it - the other day.

The shillelagh is typically made of blackthorn wood or oak, and is named for the Shillelagh Forest in County Wicklow, Ireland, once known for its massive oaks. The wood would be smeared with butter and cured in a chimney, giving the stick its shiny, black appearance.

A shillelagh may also be used as a club or weapon, and the knob was often made from a heavy blackthorn root for weight. Sometimes the stick would be hollowed out and filled with molten lead, increasing the weight. This "loaded stick" would pack quite a wallop, I'm sure!

While examining Mom's shillelagh, I found that it is indeed shiny, although I'm not convinced that this is caused by cured butter. It weighs slightly less than a pound, so it's obviously not filled with molten lead (thank goodness!).

There is a rough-hewn band of copper around the bottom tip, although the wood remains exposed where the stick meets the floor.

In the handle is what appears to be an Irish penny, dated 1996 (see inset).

The tag reads: "This 'Blackthorn' is identical to what I handcrafted for President Kennedy, President Ronald Reagan, and Tip O'Neill on their Historical Visit to Ireland. Made in Ireland."

I have no idea who crafted this item or where my grandmother bought it; however, I did find this link to the National Geographic Online Store, where they state that "The craftsman who makes this blackthorn and hazelwood walking stick has made ones as Ireland's official gift on state visits by U.S. dignitaries including Presidents John F. Kennedy, Ronald Regan, and Bill Clinton."

Until recently, I was unaware that such a special piece of Irish culture was right under my own roof. I'll be looking for a more prominent place to display Mom's shillelagh, but one that is safe from curious little fingers!


Copyright © 2008 by Elizabeth O'Neal

Wake-Up Call: Historic Atlas 5 Launch From VAFB


Photo Credit: Gene Blevins, L.A. Daily News

Yesterday morning, I happened to roll out of bed at 2:45 a.m., just in time to witness the historic launch of the first Atlas 5 rocket from Vandenberg AFB at 3:02 a.m. PDT.

It was a pretty amazing display! Living as close as we do to VAFB, we've seen several missle launches over the past few years. However, this one was different.

First, we saw an orange fireball light up the sky. It quickly rose into the air and appeared to be heading directly for our house!

The rumble finally caught up, growing louder and louder until the house began shaking. Had I not known what was happening, I would have thought we were having a good-sized earthquake!

I watched until the fireball passed to the south beyond the horizon. It was a great spectacle, and definitely worth... um... accidentally waking up in the middle of the night to see.

My daughter in the next room was awake when I went to check on her. Being the child of a rocket scientist, these launches are no big deal for her. She saw her first live launch before she was a month old.

____________________

More about the Atlas 5 Launch at Spaceflight Now.


Copyright © 2008 by Elizabeth O'Neal

Thursday, March 13, 2008

My Mother, My Hero

When I read the theme for the 44th Carnival of Genealogy, A Tribute to Women, I was unsure if I would be able to participate without turning into a puddle on the floor.

You see, the woman who has made the greatest impact on my life was my mother.

Unfortunately, she died almost 7 years ago from Acute Respiratory Distress Syndrome (ARDS), following what should have been a routine back surgery. A surgery that should have relieved her intense pain and made her life bearable... but which, instead, killed her.

To this day, I'm still so very sad and angry. My mother will never know her granddaughter, whom she would have loved so much, and my daughter will never know her grandmother. Everyday I have to fight back the grief.

So, this is my tribute to my mother, Judith Ann Dagle. She would have been 67 years old on Sunday, March 16, 2008.

I hope that what I am not able to say in words, I will be able to say in pictures.


video


Copyright © 2008 by Elizabeth O'Neal

Monday, March 10, 2008

Sending Out an S.O.S.

Part 3 in a series about the proposed closure of La Purisima State Historic Park.

Part 1: The Fourth Cut is the Deepest - Why Cut This Park?
Part 2: Back to 4th Grade – A Little History of La Purisima Mission


A docent demonstrates blacksmithing skills at "Purísima's Peoples Days" at La Purísima Mission (Lompoc, Santa Barbara Co., California). Photographed by Elizabeth O'Neal, March 1, 2008.

Imagine that you turn on the TV news one night to find that a wildfire is burning its way through the hills towards your home (those of us in California won’t have to imagine too hard).

Your first thought is to get your loved ones and pets out of the house, right? But what other items will you load into your car? What will you choose to save?

You will choose to save those items that are irreplaceable.

Photos, souvenirs, mementos of family members who have passed on. Items you were safeguarding, probably to give to your own children someday, so that your family’s history will not be forgotten.

This is particularly true if you are the family genealogist. There is no way you would ever leave these items behind.

Unfortunately, the Governor’s proposed budget will leave some of California’s valuable historic treasures “behind,” one of which is our own La Purísima Mission State Historic Park.

Why Should I Care if La Purísima Mission is Closed?

La Purísima Mission is the most fully restored of all the California missions.

The mission’s linear design is unique among all the California missions.

Docents regularly dress in period costumes and demonstrate arts and crafts, as well as everyday life in the 1820’s.

California mission history is a required part of the California 4th grade curriculum. Thousands of students come to La Purísima each year to learn about mission life firsthand.

The mission is situated on a 1,800-acre preserve. Hikers, runners, botanists, equestrians, and photographers come from all over to walk the miles of trails in this state park.

If the park is closed, will there be enough security to protect the mission’s historic treasures?

How You Can Help

Write a letter to Governor Schwarzenegger.

Write a letter to your local lawmakers.

Write a letter to the editor of your local newspaper.

Blog about this issue. (Even if you don’t live in California, you will still be affected if you decide to visit a California park or beach and find it closed one day!)

Visit some of the parks on the closure list.

Participate in the Mission Possible Rally on Saturday, March 29. Meet at River Park in Lompoc at 10:00 a.m. for a one-mile walk to the mission. Or just show up at the Mission for the rally at 11:00 a.m.

Participate in Park Advocacy Day on April 7 in Sacramento.

Spread the word that the parks need support!

For More Information

Governor Schwarzenegger’s Proposed 2008-2009 Budget
Map of Proposed Park Closures
SOS – Save our State Parks
SOS – Save our State Parks on MySpace
California State Parks Foundation
La Purísima Mission
La Purísima Mission – Volunteer Opportunities

Copyright © 2008 by Elizabeth O'Neal

Friday, March 7, 2008

Back to 4th Grade: A Brief History of La Purisima Mission

Part 2 in a series about the proposed closure of La Purisima State Historic Park.

Part 1: The Fourth Cut is the Deepest - Why Cut This Park?
Part 3: Sending Out an S.O.S. (How You Can Help)


Courtesy of The Bancroft Library, University of California, Berkeley.

Founding Fathers

Founded on December 8, 1787, by Father-President Fermin Lasuén, Mission La Purísima Concepción de María Santisima (“The Immaculate Conception of Mary, the Most Pure”) became the 11th of the 21 California missions.

The location for the new mission seemed perfect: the valley was fertile, the Chumash Indians were friendly and intelligent, and everything seemed to bode well for the success of their project.

Construction had to be delayed, however, until the end of the rainy season. In April 1788, Father-President Lasuén and two padres arrived to take charge of the operations, and within four months had baptized seventy-five neophytes (neophytes were “Christianized” Indians).

Within three years, the mission was flourishing. The crops were successful, the herds were growing, and the Indians were happy with their new home. Father Mariano Payeras began his nineteen-year service at the mission, four of which he served as Father-President and La Purísima was the seat of government for all of the missions.

Several years of prosperity followed. A report dated December 31, 1798 indicated that there was insufficient room for the 920 mission residents. New buildings, including a church, were necessary immediately, and were completed in 1802.

Earthquake!


Courtesy of UCR/California Museum of Photography

On December 8, 1812, twenty-five years to the day after the founding of La Purísima, several small tremors occurred. On December 21, 1812, a huge earthquake lasting four minutes badly damaged the walls of the church.

An aftershock, about a half-hour later, destroyed most of the remaining buildings. As if that weren’t enough, the hillside behind the mission opened in a huge fissure, allowing floods from the prolonged, drenching rains that followed to completely devastate whatever remained. Adobe bricks melted back into mud, and stores of food floated away.

1812 would be known in California as “El Ano de los Temblores,” or “The Year of the Earthquakes.”

For many reasons, the mission would not be rebuilt at the same site. Father Payeras was given permission to relocate the mission about four miles northeast, across the river, in La Cañada de los Berros (The Canyon of the Watercress). This new site had several advantages, including better access to El Camino Real, the main road between the missions.

A ten-year period of prosperity followed construction of the new mission. La Purísima became entirely self-supporting, and the community of approximately a thousand neophytes thrived.

The Beginning of the End

Mexico declared its independence from Spain in 1821, leaving the missions with no supplies and the soldiers without pay. The declining Indian population was forced to support the soldiers, who used them for military construction projects for little or no pay. Father Payeras died in 1823, leaving the mission without his guidance.

By 1824, tensions were exploding, and the Indians revolted. The immediate cause was the flogging of a La Purísima neophyte by soldiers at Mission Santa Inés. When the news reached La Purísima, the Indians seized possession of the mission and fortified the grounds. They held the mission for almost a month.

The revolt ended when 109 soldiers were sent down from the presidio in Monterey. The battle lasted less than three hours, leaving sixteen Indians dead and many wounded. Only one soldier was killed, and three wounded.

For their part in the rebellion, seven Indians were put to death and eighteen others were sentenced to imprisonment and hard labor.

Secularization and Saving Graces


Historic American Buildings Survey, Photographed by Henry F. Withey, May 1937

La Purísima Mission never recovered after the Indian uprising. The Indians vanished, the padres moved to Santa Barbara, and in 1834, an administrator took control. In 1845, the mission, with all of its lands and historical treasures, was sold to Don Juan Temple of Los Angeles for $1,100.00.

The Union Oil company bought the property in 1903, and in the early 1930’s, deeded several parcels to the State. The National Park Service and the Civilian Conservation Corps (CCC), as part of Roosevelt’s New Deal, soon came to the rescue of the crumbling mission complex.

After nearly a year of study, restoration finally began in 1935 using original tools and techniques whenever possible. The mission was dedicated as a State Historical Monument on December 7, 1941.

La Purísima remains the most completely restored of all the California missions. It was considered one of the finest historic restorations of its time.

____________________

SOURCES:

Krell, Dorothy (ed.) 1979. California Missions (Sunset Pictorial). Sunset Publishing Corporation, Menlo Park, CA.

Nelson, Bob (ed.) 1994. Sagas of the Central Coast. RJ Nelson Enterprises, Inc., Santa Maria, CA.

About.com: California Travel – La Purísima Mission, <http://gocalifornia.about.com/cs/missioncalifornia/a/purisima_hist.htm>, accessed March 4, 2008.

La Purísima Mission State Historic Park, <http://www.lapurisimamission.org/>, accessed March 3, 2008.

The California Mission Site, Ed, The Civic Group, <http://www.californiamissions.com/cahistory/lapurisima.html>, accessed March 3, 2008.


FOR FURTHER READING:

La Purísima Mission State Historic Park
La Purísima Mission SHP
Wikipedia: Mission La Purísima Concepción
A Virtual Tour of the California Missions
California Missions: A Virtual Tour
California Missions Study Association

Thursday, March 6, 2008

R.I.P. Me

Randy Seaver of Genea-Musings, and several other genealogy bloggers, have recently discussed the book Not Quite What I Was Planning: Six-Word Memoirs by Writers Famous and Obscure, edited by Rachel Fershleiser and Larry Smith.

Some bloggers have posted their own six-word memoirs.

Mine finally came to me this afternoon. It's my basic excuse for everything these days.

You've Probably Already Heard This, But...



In case you are the only person in the genealogy world who has NOT heard this news, then let me be the one to tell you:

The 43rd Carnival of Genealogy has been posted!

The topic of this month's COG was right up my alley: Technology... as in, what are your favorite technology tools (hardware, software, web site) for genealogy.

32 bloggers participated this time, including a few newbies and "bloglings" such as myself.

____________________

blogling: \ˈbläg-liŋ\, noun, one who has been a blogger for less than one year, as defined by footnoteMaven.
____________________

For the record, I was truly honored to be included among such an esteemed group of genealogy bloggers. And I'm overwhelmed and amazed that so many people took the time to visit my little blogling blog. Thank you, thank you, and I do hope you'll come back again!

If you haven't visited the COG yet, please do take the time to check it out. It will be a worthwhile visit for you, I promise.

Oh, and my little entry is here.

Many thanks to Jasia of Creative Gene for her efforts of continually hosting this terrific blog carnival.

Copyright © 2008 by Elizabeth O'Neal

Wednesday, March 5, 2008

Wordless Wednesday: Scenes From La Purisima Mission


SOURCE: La Purisima Mission Bells (Lompoc, Santa Barbara Co., California).
Photographed by Elizabeth O'Neal, March 1, 2008.


SOURCE: La Purisima Mission (Lompoc, Santa Barbara Co., California).
Photographed by Elizabeth O'Neal, March 1, 2008.


SOURCE: La Purisima Mission Garden (Lompoc, Santa Barbara Co., California).
Photographed by Elizabeth O'Neal, March 1, 2008.


SOURCE: La Purisima Mission (Lompoc, Santa Barbara Co., California).
Photographed by Elizabeth O'Neal, March 1, 2008.


SOURCE: La Purisima Mission Padre (Lompoc, Santa Barbara Co., California).
Photographed by Elizabeth O'Neal, March 1, 2008.


Copyright © 2008 by Elizabeth O'Neal

Monday, March 3, 2008

The Fourth Cut is the Deepest

Part 1 in a series about the proposed closure of La Purisima State Historic Park.


SOURCE: La Purisima Mission (Lompoc, Santa Barbara Co., California).
Photographed by Elizabeth O'Neal, March 1, 2008.

When California Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger announced his proposed 2008-2009 budget back on January 10, 2008, a shockwave went through the typically quiet communities of the Central Coast.

Among the Governor’s proposed cuts/reductions is the closure of 48 state parks.

Included in this list is our own La Purisima Mission State Historic Park in Lompoc.


Do the Math

Specifically, the Governor is seeking a 10 percent, across-the-board reduction among all state agencies in order to balance the $141 billion spending budget and stop the bleeding of the current $14 billion deficit.

Slated for closure are 17 state parks, 17 state historic parks and museums, 3 state beaches, 9 state recreation areas, and 2 state reserves. Statistically, this will close roughly 1 of every 5 parks currently operated by the State of California Department of Parks and Recreation. The closures are expected to be completed by June 2009.

According to the California Department of Parks and Recreation Budget Fact Sheet dated January 14, 2008, this involves:

A total reduction of $17 million including an 8.9%, $13.3 million reduction to our General Fund operating budget and $3.7 million in lost revenue, distributed as follows:.
  • $4.4 million from state park headquarters units other than Park Operations and 12 positions. (This represents more than 25% of the total reduction).
  • $2.0 million and 11 positions from headquarters units of Park Operations.
  • $10.6 million (including $6.9 million General Fund and $3.7 million in lost revenue) and 113 positions from the field units of the state park system.
The above reductions involve civil service procedures mandated by law that would likely not be fully implemented until the close of the 2008/09 fiscal year.

To achieve a reduction of this magnitude, on top of significant past reductions, the Department must reduce both its permanent and seasonal workforce, because salaries are the largest part of the budget.

48 park units will be closed or partially closed and placed in caretaker status and will not be open to the public. This will allow us to eliminate 136 permanent positions. However, the Department has a number of vacancies and hopes to use those vacancies to lay off the least number of personnel, but some employees may have to move.

In addition, funding for approximately 50% or 100,000 hours of seasonal work would be eliminated. That means approximately half the seasonal workers needed could be hired,to include lifeguards, park aides and others who provide public protection at state beaches and work to clean restrooms and other facilities at parks and campgrounds. Beachgoers will swim at their own risk at many more beaches and routine maintenance of our facilities will be deferred.

Elimination of public access at the 48 parks will result in a revenue loss of approximately $3.7 million to the State Parks and Recreation Fund (SPRF).

The two together, the $13.3 GF reduction and the $3.7 million loss in SPRF revenue, would result in a projected total reduction of $17.0 million in funding for the operation and maintenance of the state park system.

The Weakest Links

How were the lucky 48 selected? The criteria were three-fold:
  1. Can the park be closed to the public? In other words, can people really be kept out if the park is closed, or will they find another way in?
  2. How many people use the park? Will anyone will miss it when it's gone
  3. The Bottom Line: How much revenue does it bring in?
In addition to La Purisima Mission State Historic Park, these weak links include some very famous, historic California places:

Sutter's Fort State Historic Park in Sacramento, the oldest restored fort in the United States;
Del Norte Redwoods State Park in Crescent City, containing approximately 50% old growth coast redwood;
San Simeon State Park, one of the oldest units of the California State Parks System; and
Will Rogers State Historic Park in Pacific Palisades, ironically rededicated by Gov. Schwarzenegger in March, 2006.

However, as the California Department of Parks and Recreation puts it, "Our proposed park closures and service reductions reflect a long-term, accumulated decline in funding for State Parks, a decline which began long before this administration came to office."

In other words, blame it on the previous administrations because it's not their fault.

Plus, they're just trying to be fair. The "methodology" being used will spread the pain reductions fairly across the state, leaving no region "singled-out or spared." Misery does love company, doesn't it?

So, let us not forget that when these 48 parks are closed, 230 parks, or 83% of the park system, will still remain open.

I suppose that's good news, right? I mean, if the doctor told me that only 83% of my heart was working, I could still live a full life. How much could I possibly miss that other 17%?


Oh No, Not Again

During the fiscal crisis of the 1980’s, a 25-year tradition of “putting off until tomorrow” was begun. This included the deferral of park maintenance such as repairing of bathrooms, roofs, roads, fences, and trails. Since then, the list of deferred maintenance has grown to a whopping $1.2 billion backlog, with the current annual shortfall hovering at around the $117 million mark.

It’s hard to play catch-up to that amount of cash.

The early 1990’s saw California hit another budget bump, which resulted in yet another reduction in State Parks' funding. In fact, La Purisima Mission was targeted for closure in 1992; however, public outcry and a successful protest campaign managed to persuade the powers-that-be to have a change of heart.

From 2001 to 2007, another $10.5 million (net) was chopped out of the State Parks’ budget. Park usage fees were increased to try to offset the loss of revenue, but fee increases can only go so far. At some point, the fees will get high enough to cause people to stop coming to the parks. Apparently, the parks are nearing that point now.

According to the California Department of Parks and Recreation, closing these parks and eliminating jobs will allow them to “consolidate resources” in order to keep the remaining parks open.


Silver Lining?

On the bright side, however, the Governor’s budget proposes an additional $3 million to the General Fund for 28 park ranger positions “to improve detection and prevention of fires in fire prone areas of state parks.” This comes in the wake of the devastating wildfires of October 2007.

NEXT:

Part 2: Back to 4th Grade – A Little History of La Purisima Mission
Part 3: Sending Out an S.O.S. (How You Can Help)

____________________

SOURCES:

2008-2009 Governor's Proposed Budget
California Department of Parks and Recreation Fact Sheet (01/14/08)
Map of Proposed Park Closures


Copyright © 2008 by Elizabeth O'Neal