California arguably has the greatest state parks system in the country, and it probably rivals national parks systems from other countries, but it needs some help. Over the last several years it has been plagued by funding shortfalls, accounting scandals, and most recently battered by fires and heavy storms. There is currently a $1.3 billion dollar backlog of maintenance and projects needed for current state parks.
Supporters of the State Parks have set out to help by designing a customized license plate featuring giant redwood trees. The proceeds from this license plate will go to help jump start some of those maintenance projects in the backlog. By design the money raised from the license plates will be specifically tracked separate from California State Parks’ general operating fund. This will allow supporters to show exactly what the money was spent on and how it has benefited the parks.
How Will These Plates Help California State Parks
You may be asking yourself, “how much can a silly little license plate generate?”. The answer, quite a bit actually.
California currently has 12 specialty license plates that can be issued. There is an existing Yosemite plate that has raised $19.6 million to fund projects in Yosemite National Park. There is also the “whale tail” license plate that has raised $26.5 million to fund coastal programs. As well as other plates like the Snoopy and Veterans plates, many of which have contributed to funding important programs throughout the state that directly benefit the public.
In total, since the specialty license plate program was started by the DMV, these plates have raised $217 million. However, the State Parks specialty plate has not received the attention or support that the other existing specialty plates have.
May Deadline for License Plate
The challenge that supporters are having is that only 647 of the State Parks license plates have been ordered, and they need a minimum of 7,500 by May 18th, to commence printing of the plates. When the DMV authorizes a plate for printing, according to state law, they need at least 7,500 orders in the first year to allow the plates to be printed. If that threshold is not hit within the first year, a one-year extension is granted, however the State Parks license plate is already in the extension period, which ends on May 18th.
If 7,500 plate pre-order threshold is not hit by May 18th, the State Parks license plate will be cancelled, and money will be refunded to those that did order.
License Plate Design
The State Parks license plate features redwood trees in a forest, and was designed by Wyn Ericson. Ericson is a middle school teacher and artist located in Napa County. The design was selected during a contest in November 2015. The contest was judged by a panel including California State Parks, the California Natural Resources Agency, and non-profit organizations that work to preserve and protect California’s parks and natural resources including Save the Redwoods League, and the Sempervirens Fund.
The state parks license plates cost $50 for the first year and $40 every year after. To order, go to https://parksplate.parks.ca.gov.