The announcement this past Friday, the 20th, had activists across the board angry at Sacramento. After the much contested cuts to OHV, and the year-long threat of State Park closures, the discovery of $50 million in unaccounted for funds at the Department of Parks and Recreation has had everyone wondering why we were asked to jump into emergency action mode when it seems like the money was available all along.
But, as many of these things often are, it is more complicated than it is being reported as in the press. First, the $50 million is not free-and-clear money. $33.5 million of it is part of the OHV trust fund, meaning that it can only (and could only have ever) been used for the Department's OHV program. Even had this $33.5 million been discovered earlier, it could not have been used to save any of the 70 State Parks that were on the closure list.
Read more: Budget Windfall or Media Posturing?
Effective Saturday, July 14, the Bureau of Land Management is implementing fire restrictions on public lands managed by the Bakersfield Field Office in Eastern Kern County, including recreational areas at Lake Isabella and Walker Pass. The fire restrictions will remain in effect until further notice. These restrictions join restrictions already in place in the California Desert District.
Field Office Manager Tim Smith said the restrictions are needed due to dry fuels and high fire danger throughout Central California. “A wildfire under these conditions could pose a serious threat to the public, resources, and adjacent private lands and communities,” he said.
Read more: BLM Announces Fire Restrictions for Lands Managed by Bakersfield Field Office