Campaign at a Glance

The Challenge

One of the largest state park systems in the United States, California state parks are priceless resources that enrich our state—and the lives of Californians—in many ways:

  • State parks attract 81 million visitors each year and generate $6 billion in annual economic activity.
  • State parks directly employ roughly 4,100 Californians and support over 56,000 jobs.
  • Research has shown that spending time in or around green space is associated with better overall measures of mental health, greater overall well-being, and less experience of distress.
  • California’s state park system is home to 3,195 historic buildings and more than 11,000 known prehistoric and historic archaeological sites. These historical treasures represent the lives of Californians spanning 10,000-12,000 years.
  • State parks are havens for extraordinary biodiversity that ranks California among the world’s top 25 biological hotspots.
  • State parks manage sea-level rise, wildfires, invasive species, drought, and other climate threats.
  • State parks offer more than 4,500 miles of hiking, biking, and equestrian trails.
  • State parks contain 1.6 million acres of land and 320 miles of protected coastline.
  • The system provides some of the most affordable recreation and vacation destinations in California.  However, camping has been suspended and unclear when and if it’ll resume, threatening the more than $7 million collected in fees.
  • Partnerships between parks and schools help support immersion-based learning of science, math, history, and the environment.

But the parks that, in so many ways, make California the Golden State are in unprecedented peril:

  • With state funding for parks diminished and volatile, state parks will no longer be able to offer the same level of programming and staffing.
  • $1.3 billion in deferred park maintenance threatens the long-term viability our state parks system.
  • The state parks system is facing a $40 million  in cuts overall to the general funds. This includes:
    • Elimination of $20 million in funding for the Outdoor Equity Grants Program established under AB 209, which goes directly towards programs to increase access to the outdoors for many of the same populations disproportionately impacted by COVID-19.
    • Decline of $2.6 million in resources for improvements to urban facilities – this could jeopardize resources dedicated to design of Candlestick as well as Prop 68 funds of nearly $5 million for nonprofit operators.
    • $3 million decline for enhancing access projects, potential shift away from Col. Allensworth new visitor center, restoration of native plants, unknown impact to PORTS, and likely loss of 19 interpreters for K-12 education.
  • Nonprofit park partners are essential to keep the system whole, but are struggling due to the repercussions of COVID-19 and many have lost most of their staff and programming.
    • Concessions are not open during peak time of year threatening the nearly $20 million in revenue sales.
    • Partners who help to manage parks provide essential programming, visitor services, funds for staff positions among other supportive services are financially struggling to stay afloat due to closures that have halted fundraising, special events and other opportunities that generate support.
  • California has no long-term plan for stewarding its precious and imperiled state parks system.

The Solution

As the only independent voice for California state parks, California State Parks Foundation is not willing to stand by and watch 100+ years of investment in our state parks go to waste. We are rising to the challenge with a visionary strategy to keep the Golden State’s most vital natural and cultural treasures accessible, excellent, and protected — today and for the future.

All In For Parks is a bold vision that combines immediate steps to stem the tide of budget cuts with innovative public policy, private investment, and revenue opportunities to strengthen and sustain parks for generations to come.

The Opportunity

How can you play a role in the future of California state parks? This campaign offers many exciting opportunities for donors to provide significant gifts that will have a transformative impact on the 280 glorious state parks that belong to all of us. Gifts and pledges qualify as charitable deductions for income tax purposes and may be paid over several years.

To learn more, please contact Randy Widera, Director of Philanthropy, at 831-334-0372 or randy@calparks.org.