This new series from the Sacramento Bee can be understood as hinging on these three elements, increasing the number of parks, not adding more rangers, and less visitors, highlighted in these excerpts from the story.
This is similar to the issues occurring in the American River Parkway, issues our organization was founded to help resolve—increased Parkway usage as the surrounding population increases, while ranger presence (and public safety) is decreasing due to County funding problems.
An excerpt from the Bee article.
“Crime is on the rise in California's state parks, up nearly threefold in the last decade, according to Department of Parks and Recreation data analyzed by The Sacramento Bee….
“As crime increased and the department added a dozen new parks, ranger staffing levels remained flat and salaries did not keep pace with other law enforcement jobs. Nearly 30 percent of ranger positions now are vacant – 131 out of 449, 18 more than a year ago….
“Visitors to state parks seem to have noticed the growth in crime. A 2007 survey by the state Parks Department found people citing gang activity, alcohol and drug use, and concerns about personal safety, as reasons to stay away.
“The department also found visitors spending less time in state parks for the first time in at least a decade, bucking a national trend.” (highlighting added)