Sacramento, CA – The California State Legislature yesterday voted to approve Assembly Bill 74, the Budget Act of 2019. The budget aims to serve all Californians by focusing on vulnerable populations through expanded resources addressing critical problems like homelessness, the need for expanded healthcare and the housing crisis. The California State Parks Foundation is eager to continue to work with our state leaders to build on this goal by ensuring our state parks – and the critical health benefits they provide – are part of the vision for a ‘California for all.’ The funding included in this year’s budget for park protection and equitable access to our public lands represents the first step in achieving this goal.
“This budget demonstrates the steadfast dedication between our state leaders to fulfill the ‘California for All’ vision set out by Governor Newsom – a vision we wholly embrace as it aligns with our mission to increase access to the health, education and quality of life benefits that our parks offer.” Said Rachel Norton, Executive Director, California State Parks Foundation. “California currently has a budget surplus and now is the time to invest in and establish a sustainable funding source to keep our parks open, safe, clean and truly available for all as a part of the state’s inclusive vision.”
This year’s budget includes a much-needed one-time increase in funding to protect and preserve California’s incredible state park system through an allocation of $24.5 million for state park maintenance. While the funding is crucial to continue the work of addressing the more than $1 billion in deferred park maintenance costs, it unfortunately represents a decrease from the resources previously allocated in the May revise and underscores the need to make continued investments going forward to put a greater dent in the work that must be done to protect and preserve our state’s natural splendor.
To begin to address the critical barriers to access to green spaces that California’s most vulnerable communities are facing, the California Natural Resource Agency will receive an allocation of an additional $5.3 million to fund youth community access grants to California’s public lands including state parks. Department of Parks and Recreation will also see $15.9 million in funding from Proposition 64 to continue to preserve our state parks, of which $7.1 million will be used to survey the impacts and identify unknown areas of cannabis cultivation to assist with prioritizing resources for effective enforcement, $5.6 million for remediation and restoration of illegal cultivation activities on state park land, and $3.2 million to make roads and trails accessible for peace officer patrol and program assessment and development.
“This budget marks a first step forward towards much-needed, sustainable funding streams for our parks that will help ensure every Californian can experience state parks,” said Holly Martinez, Director of Programs and Advocacy, California State Parks Foundation. “After years of financial constraints, we’re eager to continue this momentum and work with legislators and the Governor to prioritize additional resources to build a pathway to parks for our state’s disadvantaged communities so that all Californians can reap the crucial physical and mental health benefits they provide.”
The California State Parks Foundation is dedicated to fighting for a state park system backed by long-term funding sources for operations and improvements in community access. This year’s budget is a step in the right direction. AB 74 will now head to Governor Gavin Newsom’s desk to await his signature. Once signed, it will mark the completion of his first budget as 40th Governor of California.
About California State Parks Foundation
California State Parks Foundation is a member-supported nonprofit dedicated to protecting, improving and advocating for all of California’s state parks. With our community of supporters, we deliver innovative solutions for an excellent parks system by facilitating park improvements, inspiring stewardship, supporting partners, advocating for sound policies and connecting people to parks. Together we ensure that the natural beauty, rich culture and history, and recreational and educational opportunities of our 280 state parks are available for all to enjoy now and for generations to come.
For more information, visit www.calparks.org