California's Department of Parks and Recreation has been caught with a surplus. A $54 million surplus. Enough money to run the state park system here for more than two years. They got caught when state auditors were looking into inappropriate-to-illegal vacation buyouts for management employees there. But what's interesting is why Parks and Rec kept the money secret. All you need to know is that more than half the money comes from registering all-terrain vehicles (ATVs). These are the noisemakers that some small percentage of the population likes to take out to ecologically fragile areas and ride around on--over sand dunes, through deserts, and the like. Many of the tree-huggers at Park and Rec would probably like to ban the things entirely, but they are forced to accommodate all Californians, even those who aren't going to see a bit of wildlife, as their pollution devices scare away everything for miles.
But they money rolled in. And if they reported it, the all-terrain community would want either a fee reduction or more places for their form of recreation. And you can imagine park rangers cringing at that one. So some dozen years ago, someone decided that they'd just "forget" that they had the money. So they didn't tell anyone. And didn't tell anyone. They conveniently didn't tell the State Controller or the Department of Finance, as those agencies probably aren't staffed by people who think ATVs are the Spawn of Satan. After awhile, State Parks and Rec may have forgotten they had the money. But now everyone knows about the $54 million. And I wonder how long until the ATV community decides they want to ride around on the beach at Big Sur.