An interview with the president of the American River Parkway Preservation Society, Michael Rushford, was published, in the July issue, by Inside Publications, page 24.
“Growing up in Carmichael in the early 60s, Michael Rushford learned an important lesson from the nearby American River: change is inevitable.
“In the natural world, things are always changing,” he says, recalling how weather and releases from Folsom Dam dramatically impacted the river, its nature and everything along its banks.
“Every year the topography of the river bed would change a little. Each summer we would find new rapids, new lagoons, new islands. And, I remember that after one really wet winter, a big tree, which we considered invincible, fell into the river,” says Rushford, smiling at the notion that even massive trees can topple.
As president of the American River Parkway Preservation Society, he would like to topple the way the parkway is managed. Rushford and his group wants to get government out the Parkway management business.
“We do not believe that local governments which share its management, or the special interest groups vying for influence over its future, represent the majority of people who visit and use the American River Parkway,” he explains. “We try to speak for the bulk of parkway users who want a well-managed, clean, safe and accessible place to enjoy the river and the beauty of the surrounding area.”
“According to Rushford, there are too many cooks in the kitchen.
“No one entity is really in charge, but several share the responsibility,” he says. “Since the 1980s more and more people have become regular parkway visitors. The financial demands for maintenance and improvement have increased, while local governments seem to view the parkway as more of a problem than a priority.”
“His group believes the parkway should be managed and maintained by a non-profit conservancy chartered solely for this purpose and beyond the influence of narrow interests or government budgets.
“The governing board should share a vision that recognizes the parkway belongs to everyone,” Rushford says.
“The parkway preservation society supports the creation of an endowment to provide funding, utilizing volunteers and paid staff for maintenance and improvements, and to support cultural, recreational and educational programs.
“While Rushford wants government to get out of parkway management, he does see a role for government: in the area of law enforcement.
“Today, parts of the river are a crime problem and off limits to most people,” he explains. “Some of this has to do with the times we live in, but I don’t believe that we should abandon the goal of making a public place that so many people enjoy a safe place as well.”