On The Lack of Parks and Recreation

Updated On
Big Basin Redwood State Park, California

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In the ongoing public battle of environment versus government, the Canadian Parks and Wilderness Society recently released an official report warning that new federal budget cuts threaten the health and safety of Canada’s wildlife areas.

According to CBC $30 million was cut from Parks Canada in the 2012-2013 budget, forcing approximately 600 layoffs, and leaving formerly protected wildlife areas at risk for development and resource exploitation. The Ministry offered that the department will “continue to monitor scientific data” from its 42 national parks, 167 national historic sites and 4 marine conservation areas, but did not offer details on what would happen beyond this measure of observation.

Contrastingly, the country’s yearly financial proposal from Flaherty had room to include an $8 million dollar shift to “crack down on conservation groups, while maintaining the status quo on substantial tax incentives for the oil and gas sector.” (Postmedia News)

Canadian environmentalist and icon David Suzuki recently stepped down from The Suzuki Foundation non-profit group to free his ability to speak on hot topics under the government’s increasing scrutiny of activists.

Down in California, there’s more trouble. The Director of the state’s Department of Parks and Recreation Ruth Coleman recently resigned after it was revealed that $53 million over the last 12 years has gone missing. The department’s former deputy director of administration Manuel Thomas Lopez, also resigned in May. The Sacramento Bee reported that Lopez had been conducting an unauthorized “secret vacation buyout program” that has cost California more than $271,000—this, at a time when the same department board was simultaneously threatening to close a number of state parks due to budget constraints.

Over on the East Coast, the Wall Street Journal just broke the news that a former NYC official of the Parks department Estelle Cooper is under investigation following accusations that she’s stolen upwards of $50,000 from a nonprofit group she founded on the premise of improving a neighbourhood park in Queens that has been the site of the World State Fair.

At such a crucial time for officials to step up on measures of environmental preservation and public health both above and below the Canada-U.S. border, these breaches contaminate an already shaky public trust that only stands to further separate state and science.

“The individuals involved in the scam did more than deprive the state parks system of $271,000 when it desperately needed every dime to keep parks open. They besmirched public service at a time when public trust is needed.” (San Mateo Daily Journal)

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