A proposed new license plate to raise money for California’s state parks system won’t be printed. It needed 7,500 pre-paid orders by May 18, 2017 and failed to hit that target.
Millions of Californians visit the state’s majestic redwood forests every year. Their love for the venerable trees, however, apparently doesn’t extend to their license plates.
A four-year campaign to raise money for California’s state parks system with a new commemorative license plate featuring redwood trees has failed for lack of support.
Under state law, new specialty license plates need 7,500 pre-purchased orders before the Department of Motor Vehicles will produce them. And when the deadline passed last Thursday, the parks plate had sold only 2,581.
People who pre-ordered a specialized license plate will get a refund, state parks officials said Monday.
“Though this unique opportunity to support California’s state parks faltered, we are grateful for the public support of California’s amazing natural and cultural resources, and we encourage everyone to continue visiting their state parks,” said Gloria Sandoval, a spokeswoman for the state parks department.
The state parks plates cost $50 for the first one issued and $40 each year after, and for personalized plates, $98 for the first one and $78 each year after.
California has 12 specialty license plates on the road. They include a Yosemite plate that has raised $19.6 million for projects in Yosemite National Park; a recently approved Snoopy plate that raises money for California museums; a whale-tail plate that has generated $26.5 million for coastal programs; and a veterans plate that has raised $12.7 million for military veterans programs.
Together, they have raised a combined $217 million over the years, with the KIDS plate, featuring a small hand, generating the most — 61.9 million for child abuse prevention and children’s health issues.
The redwoods plate was designed by Wyn Ericson, an artist and middle school teacher in Napa County. Ericson’s work won first prize in a contest in November 2015 to select the best design. The plate was originally authorized under a law that passed in 2012, and pushed by former state Assemblyman Jared Huffman of Marin County, who now is a member of the U.S. House of Representatives.
Various theories for why the redwoods plate failed have circulated privately among its supporters, including failure to mount a sustained public relations campaign; the fact that Southern Californians may not identify with redwoods, a Northern California tree, as much as Northern California residents do; and the fact that Gov. Jerry Brown recently signed a 12-cent gas tax increase to fund highway and road repairs.
The redwoods plate isn’t the first environmentally themed plate this year to die, however.
A plate designed to raise money for environmental restoration at the Salton Sea — a vast inland body of water in Imperial and Riverside counties — died earlier this year when it sold only 151 copies, according to the Desert Sun newspaper in Palm Springs.