California’s state park system is at a crossroads. As a system, California’s state parks have persisted even in the face of challenging and shifting political, social, and environmental priorities. Yet, after more than a century of leading the way in preserving and protecting precious resources, today’s pressures – including proposals for wholesale shutdowns, current and indefinite closures, a $1.2 billion deferred maintenance backlog, and more – are the most challenging the system has ever seen.
These crises cannot continue to define our state parks. We need a new vision for our state parks for the next 100 years and beyond. A Vision for Excellence for California’s State Parks report is now available and provides a statewide vision for the future of California state parks.
When fully realized, that vision results in an excellent California state park system that will:
Making this vision a reality will require dedication and collaboration among the public, the non-profit sector, businesses, institutions, and policymakers within five strategic areas for action:
In addition to the work looking for long-term funding, CSPF has also been working on a new visioning process for the future of California’s state parks, our Park Excellence Project. This project goes beyond simply surveying Californians on their satisfaction with state parks. The goal of the project is to delve into their opinions about the purpose of our state parks and to generate a discussion about state park experiences, programs, and services desired by Californians.Along with our project partner, Save the Redwoods League, CSPF embarked on that public dialogue in 2010. CSPF members may remember an online survey was conducted in February 2010, which garnered over 6,000 responses. Coupled with a statewide telephone poll, outreach to key park constituency groups, and interviews with experts from other park systems, the survey findings created a wide-ranging picture for what makes up excellence in our state parks. Key themes that emerged include the need for our state parks to continue to protect our heritage, improve ways to welcome visitors, create new opportunities for teaching and educating Californians about the precious natural, cultural and historic resources, and more.
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