California State Parks has new leadership and they have a plan. It’s called Brilliance in the Basics and one of the five goals jumped out at me. To have the cleanest restrooms in the country. Yes, you heard it right. To have the cleanest restrooms in the country!
This is a big country. There must be hundreds of millions of restrooms. And I am pretty sure there are some pretty fastidious cleaners out there. Despite sequester cuts I am sure President Obama’s commode is well taken care of….
So I am poking gentle fun at this, but I also agree that it’s an important goal. It’s important to take care of the basics before you can strive for excellence. And when it comes to parks, unless you provide a clean restroom many people will be turned away: Maslow’s hierarchy of needs in action.
The rest of the plan presents an ambitious set of goals and actions for the coming two years while a more comprehensive independent review of parks is undertaken. I was happy to see Parks committing themselves to partnerships, to resource protection and restoration, to interpretation and education, and to purchasing additional land when this will address pressing park needs. A lot of the strategic plan calls for developing further plans to prioritize work before actions are taken. I hope they are able to move through the planning phase rapidly and move to implementation as that’s when we’ll start seeing changes on the ground. To paraphrase a military aphorism: a decent plan well executed beats out the perfect plan that never hits the ground.
Ultimately the challenge State Parks will face in the coming two years is they are highly unlikely to get additional public funds and the private donor community is already showing signs of fatigue. To be successful, State Parks will have to look first to how they can deploy existing resources in a more targeted manner. And this will present State Park staff and partners with some tough tradeoffs.
In his forward, Major General Jackson encourages all park staff and volunteers to read and understand the plan. I would take this one step further and encourage the myriad of park partners in the public, private, and non-profit sector to read and support the plan. The State Park system has always been more than just the Department of Parks and Recreation, and in tough times it becomes ever more important to fully embrace the myriad of park partners.
And if the next park restroom you visit isn’t up to your high standards, I am sure Major General Jackson would appreciate a call…..