Key recommendations about tax measure, entry fees
Marin County residents have noticed recent improvements in Marin County Parks properties and facilities and want to see the work continue, according to results from an online survey.
More than 4,800 people took Marin County Parks’ five-minute survey between February 11 and March 25, answering questions about the programs and facilities they enjoy, priorities for where the department is spending its resources, and barriers to enjoying parks.
Marin County Parks engaged over 160 community groups and organizations, conducted in-person outreach at preserve trailheads, and posted notices in parks and preserves to help spread the word about the survey. Max Korten, Parks’ Director and General Manager, reported the results to the Marin County Board of Supervisors during its May 7 meeting.
“It was time to check in with residents across the county, and we are taking immediate steps to put the feedback we received to good use in budget planning and next steps for the department,” Korten said. “The survey results will guide how we apply Measure A funds and other resources.”
Over 75 percent of Marin residents who took the survey said Parks is doing a great or good job. Survey respondents showed the strongest support for sustained or increased funding in three key areas: vegetation management and wildfire fuel reduction, facility maintenance and upgrades, and trail maintenance and upgrades.
Ninety percent of respondents rated vegetation management and wildland fire fuels reduction as a top priority, and Measure A funds are allowing Parks to enhance vegetation management work. In partnership with Marin County Fire, a 14-person crew is being added to focus on vegetation work over the next two years. Measure A is also supporting a countywide vegetation map being created through One Tam, a collaborative of five regional land management agencies that includes Parks. Using advanced technologies, the map will help target the best places to focus risk reduction efforts.
After hearing Korten’s report, the Board recommended that Parks staff take steps to extend the Marin County Parks, Open Space, and Farmland Measure A sales tax by having it placed on the November 2020 ballot. Marin residents approved the Measure A ballot initiative in 2012. The quarter-cent sales tax has generated an average of $13.4 million per year to support Marin County’s 16,000 acres of parks and open space, as well as local parks and farmland. Expenditures are tracked in the department’s annual report available at marincountyparks.org.
By law, Measure A funds are dedicated to park maintenance, open space roads and trails, vegetation management, habitat restoration, community programming, farmland preservation, and outdoor recreation through the County and Marin’s cities, towns, and community organizations. A community oversight committee monitors how Measure A funds are spent.
The Board also said Parks should explore a reduction in park entry fees to encourage more residents to visit County-owned facilities. Kevin Wright, External Affairs Manager for Marin County Parks, has helped lead department efforts on visitor and resident outreach and data collection.
“Each time we hear from residents in our parks and in the community, the feedback we receive gives us an opportunity to improve,” Wright said. “Ensuring all residents have access to enjoyable park outings is a priority for our department, and we are seeking to remove barriers to visiting while providing the best experience possible once people arrive.”
Learn more about Parks at www.marincountyparks.org. The department is always in need of volunteers, and you can learn more about those opportunities on the website as well.