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MICKEY HART BANGS THE DRUM FOR PARK FUNDING

TED APPEL / WATCH SONOMA COUNTY, TED APPEL / WATCH SONOMA COUNTY

Remember that TV commercial that suggested your brain looks like a fried egg when it's on drugs?

Mickey Hart wants to show you what your brain looks like when it's in a state park.

The Grateful Dead drummer, who now lives in the hills outside Sebastopol, has posted a video on YouTube encouraging fans to vote for Prop. 21. The initiative would tack an $18 surcharge onto vehicle license fees to create a dedicated funding source for state parks.

Hart created his video, entitled "This Is Your Brain On Parks," to showcase the restorative benefits of open space and nature. The 21-second video echoes the iconic anti-drug TV commercial created in 1987 by the Partnership for a Drug-Free America.

It begins with a bustling urban streetscape, as a voice intones, "This is your brain."

"And this is your brain on parks," the voice continues as the scene cuts to a serene waterfall and peaceful lake.

Hart's wife, environmental consultant Caryl Hart, is a longtime parks advocate and last week was appointed to head Sonoma County's Regional Park System. She currently serves as chairwoman of the California State Park and Recreation Commission, which oversees the state park system.

The measure, if approved by voters, would replace day-use access fees currently charged on vehicles entering state parks and beaches.

"California's state parks are the very soul of our state but are on the brink of disaster," Mickey Hart said in a statement issued by the Prop. 21 campaign. "State parks are our heritage and incredibly important to protect and safe-keep for future generations. I'm urging my fans and all Californians to make sure they vote Yes on Prop 21."

The Prop. 21 campaign has encouraged supporters to create their own campaign videos and post them on the Internet, attempting to spread its message virally through social media. It is staging a contest with a $5,000 prize for the person who creates the best campaign video.

"We're not looking for the same old slick political ads from media consultants. Instead, we're looking for really creative, interesting ads that will engage and enlighten viewers and help them understand why Proposition 21 is so important to California," according to the contest rules.

The initiative is opposed by the California Taxpayers Association and the Howard Jarvis Taxpayers Association. Opponents say Prop. 21 would impose a new, regressive fee on taxpayers while allowing legislators in Sacramento to shift existing park funding into other programs. "This is the wrong approach to securing funding for the state parks. State parks should rely on user fees for those who wish to visit the state parks," the Taxpayers Association said in its analysis of the initiative.

"I've seen firsthand the devastating impacts budget cuts have had on our beloved state park system," Carly Hart said in a statement. "Without Prop 21, we are going to see more young people, more families and more Californians lose access to the benefits and opportunities that our state parks have to offer."

-- Ted Appel / Watch Sonoma County