Protecting Open Spaces | Cal Parks

Protecting Open Spaces


California’s state parks need our protection, as increasing development throughout the state has caused pressures to mount on the entire park system.

Over the years, the array of threats and proposals inconsistent with the vision of state parks and that have attempted to erode the legacy of the state park system have included toll roads cutting through the heart of a state park, residential and commercial developments, transmission lines, or desalination plants. These threats have become progressively more common, and increasingly complex.

  • In 2007, California State Parks Foundation weighed in with the California Public Utilities Commission (CPCU) against proposed construction of a new electricity transmission line through Anza-Borrego Desert State Park. California State Parks Foundation participated in briefings, public hearings, and eventually testimony before the CPCU regarding the proposed Sunrise Powerlink’s harmful effects to the park.
  • California State Parks Foundation partnered with organizations including Friends of Allensworth, Allensworth PALS and the Planning and Conservation League to stop a mega-dairy proposal from generating water, air and noise pollution next to Colonel Allensworth State Historic Park. An agreement was reached that prohibited the development of any mega-dairies on private land outside the park.
  • In partnership with a broad, multicultural and economically diverse group of community, environmental, civil rights and civic leaders, California State Parks Foundation raised concerns regarding the proposed high-speed rail line through downtown Los Angeles, which would effect both Los Angeles State Historic Park and Rio de Los Angeles State Park.
  • The most recent threat, although it has been going on for more than 15 years, is San Onofre State Beach. The park had been threatened by a proposal by the Transportation Corridor Agencies (TCA) to build a multi-lane toll road that would have bisected San Onofre State Beach and ruined the San Mateo Watershed. Now, Assemblymember Tasha Boerner-Horvath has introduced a bill with us which aims to shore up protections for San Onofre State Beach. AB 1426 will codify the judicial decree that currently protects San Onofre State Beach, the Donna O’Neill Land Conservancy, and the San Mateo Watershed.

Unfortunately, California’s state parks are often looked at as the path of least resistance for placing infrastructure and other development projects. In many cases, battles are being fought on a case-by-case, park-by-park basis without a clear, consistent statewide policy.

This absence of clear policy authority and a lack of strong protection tools available for state parks has unfortunately left the entire state park system at risk. Until sufficient legislative and legal protections exist, our state parks remain vulnerable.

As each park is threatened, the entire system is threatened.




miles of protected coastline

1.6 million

acres of land protected in state parks.