About Us | Cal Parks
Our Mission

Protecting and preserving the California state park system, for the benefit of all. 

Our Vision

Californians have a state park system that is​ accessible and relevant, adequately and sustainably​ funded, and stewarded for future generations.  

Our Values

A Bigger Tent 

Just like a camping tent that accommodates more people, we strive to create an inclusive and welcoming environment for all. We believe that by coming together and embracing diversity, we create a stronger and more vibrant community where everyone can thrive.   

Future Forward 

Our guiding compass, we embrace the boldness to push boundaries, stand firm in our convictions, and adapt to change. We fearlessly confront challenges, remaining steadfast in our commitment to our vision, and continuously seek innovation.

Connections Create Results 

Through collective action, we pool our resources and align our efforts toward a common goal, amplifying our impact and making a real difference. We understand that no significant achievement can be accomplished alone, but can be through the power of connecting with others.     

Celebrate California 

We honor the exceptional beauty of our state, while also protecting and highlighting all that is unique about California's state parks. We believe that nature is a source of wonder and awe, and the outdoors offer endless inspiration.   

Our History

California’s state parks comprise the largest and most diverse natural and cultural heritage holdings of any state in the nation. They include beaches, underwater refuges, Indigenous peoples’ cultural preserves, museums, lighthouses, ghost towns, recreation areas, and wilderness areas. State parks’ peaks, deserts, redwoods, and coastlines are some of the most immediately recognizable natural features in the world. For over 50 years, California State Parks Foundation has been the leading statewide voice in advocating for a sustainably funded state park system, access to parks for all, and enduring park protection.   

The organization was founded in 1969 by William Penn Mott, Jr., to be a partner to the California State Parks in protecting and preserving the California state park system. As director of California State Parks, William Penn Mott, Jr. rallied a core group of friends and park supporters to form California State Parks Foundation. With Director Mott, this group believed that parks needed an independent nonprofit partner to help engage a broader audience of park supporters, inspire philanthropy, and better serve more diverse communities. They committed to improving the quality of life for all Californians by expanding access to the natural beauty, rich culture and history, and educational and health opportunities offered by California’s state parks.      

Early in its history, California State Parks Foundation helped grow the system by acquiring land for the state, thereby preserving these treasures for generations to come. As California’s state parks were in a period of rapid growth, we were a leader and partner in safeguarding our state’s natural and historical resources.      

As the new millennium approached, the California state park system began to show its age with crumbling infrastructure and mounting deferred maintenance. It was also increasingly apparent that many Californians do not have access to their state parks and all the health and wellness benefits they provide. State parks were suffering at the mercy of the state’s boom-and-bust budget cycle and were a target for development threats such as road construction, powerline corridors, trains, racetracks, golf courses, and more. California State Parks Foundation needed to increase its advocacy and presence in Sacramento to defend the state park system in the Capitol.    

Over the course of 50+ years, the organization has built a dedicated movement of over 70,000 members and raised more than $300 million to benefit state parks. Today, California has the largest and most biologically diverse state park system in the nation, with 280 park units that are vitally important to the well-being of our state’s environment, economy, and quality of life. California State Parks Foundation continues to fight for our state parks wherever and whenever they need us.    

Our recent successes include restoring the Yosemite Slough wetlands at Candlestick Point State Recreation Area, securing state funding for new park access programs, improving habitat for the threatened western monarch butterfly, and ensuring wildfire recovery and future climate resilience statewide.  

Read California State Parks Foundation's Strategic Plan, Annual Reports, financial information, and other publications 

William Penn Mott, Jr with Park Ranger


Learn about the founders and dedicated leaders of the organization. 



A look at the major victories throughout the organizations history.  



If we truly are to benefit all, we must address justice, equity, inclusion, and diversity (JEID) in our work.