Stop. Stop reading this right now and take a look around you. Do you see that? Do you hear that? Do you feel that? The trees, the green grass, the sparkling blue ocean, the bright flowers, the birds. Nature surrounds you. Just take in the birds chirping, the sun basking your skin in warmth with the occasional breeze. Have you ever taken the time just to stop and appreciate nature and its natural beauty? We are surrounded by nature and we are located in an area where nature is easily accessible for us. We live right next to the beach and we have free access to state parks located all throughout Santa Barbara.
We, as UCSB students, do take advantage of these resources. We have organizations such as The Adventure Program and Excursion Club, just to name a few, that utilize these natural resources, with the core of these organizations consisting of going outside and enjoying nature for what it offers and appreciating all of its glory. These organizations are not the only ones at UCSB that use these resources. UCSB students have the opportunity to use state parks as a way to socialize, including holding events for social gatherings/events such as Earth Day or simply hanging out with our friends. The activities to enjoy outside are endless, whether it be hiking to the wind caves at Gaviota State Park or sitting around and simply enjoying each other’s company. For students, going to parks to get out of the overcrowded and stuffy library when midterms and finals season rolls over is a breath of fresh air, and the desire to enjoy a beautiful sunny day can be satisfied in Santa Barbara. All of this is provided by state parks for free, giving us plenty of reasons to utilize it these parks; what student or person doesn’t like free things?
With the Trump administration attacking our state parks and natural lands, we might not have that anymore. The Trump administration plans to exploit public lands and exhaust natural resources located at our state parks for oil drilling and mining, as well as drastically cutting the Land and Water Conservation Fund, whose purpose is to grant Americans accessibility to nature and the public lands from every county in the U.S. State parks and natural resources slow the process of global warming, as the natural resources take in CO2 emissions and output oxygen. With the rapid increase in global warming, we need as much help as we can get, but having our government continuously exploits our natural resources to build more buildings solely due to economic purposes is detrimental. We may have a growing economy, but where would we be living once we’ve stripped our natural resources bare? Even though California generates the largest amount of revenue based solely on state parks (with California having 110 state parks, 27 being in the SoCal are) it isn’t enough. If we cannot reduce the abuse of our land and natural resources, it’ll lead to more debt; our government would spend more money in trying to save an environment that has become unsalvageable.
By supporting Prop 68, the $25 billion of postponed maintenance in parks throughout the state can be addressed and a bond of $5 billion can be built into kickstarting the protection of our state parks and natural resources. Our environment does more than just give us enjoyment; it improves our quality of life and helps us survive the rapid increase of global warming.
Katalina Vang is the outreach coordinator for CALPIRG’s “Save Our State Parks” Campaign at UCSB.