This bill would create the Explore the Coast Program in the California Coastal Conservancy to expand opportunities for all Californians to access and enjoy the state’s coastal resources. The bill would authorize the conservancy to award grants to public agencies, including federally recognized Indian tribes and other nonfederally recognized California Native American, and nonprofit organizations to carry out projects that increase the recreational, educational, and stewardship opportunities for people to explore California’s coastal resources, especially people from communities that face barriers to accessing and enjoying coastal resources. The bill would require the conservancy, when awarding grants under the program, to prioritize projects that provide students and youth with an opportunity to visit the coast for the first time.
Children are spending more and more time indoors than generations before; simultaneously, experiencing higher rates of mental health issues with a decline in accessing services. We know that being outdoors is essential role for health, happiness and quality of life. Yet our younger generations are spending more and more time indoors, with the average child playing freely outside for just four to seven minutes a day, according to the recent report The Path Ahead. Additional research shows that children are spending half as much time outside today as they did 20 years ago. Couple that with the fact that 40% of U.S. School Districts have eliminated recess, and outdoor education programs and field trips have declined significantly over the years. Increasing access to state coastal beaches will enhance outdoor experiences for youth that expereince the greatest barriers.