Last week, California State Parks Foundation hosted our 20th Annual Park Advocacy Day. As part of Park Advocacy Day, more than eighty park advocates traveled to the Capitol to show their support for state parks. California State Parks Foundation has been holding Park Advocacy Days for the last twenty years, reflecting its ongoing commitment to engaging Californians in the active protection and advocacy of their state parks.
The theme for the event was Rise Up for Parks. During the COVID-19 pandemic, people turned to their parks like never before — for fresh air, exercise, meditation, solace, and a much-needed break from the stresses of a quickly changing world. Now, it is more important, than ever to protect and preserve these places — to rise up for parks.
The day began with welcomes from California Natural Resource Agency’s Deputy Director for Access, Katherine Toy, and Senator John Laird (Santa Cruz). Senator Laird discussed the importance of pairing budget asks for parks with solutions to address larger concerns, like climate change.
Then Rachel Norton, Executive Director at California State Parks Foundation, hosted a panel with Keith Cialino and Catherine Baxter, staff from the legislature who primarily analyze legislation about state parks, and Elena Ortiz, a lobbyist from Environmental & Energy Consulting, a lobbying and consulting firm specializing in environmental advocacy. The panelists answered questions about how to grab legislator’s attention to increase park funding and how state parks and non-profits can aid the state in reaching its goal of conserving 30% of California’s land and coastal waters by 2030, among other questions.
After the panel, Deanna LaTour-Jarquin, Government Affairs Manager at California State Parks Foundation, described the legislative and budget priorities participants would advocate for that day. Participants advocated for increased funding for equitable access, deferred maintenance and climate resilience, and legislative priorities ranging from limiting pesticide usage to creating a discount day at state parks. Participants worked in assigned groups based on legislative visits to hone their pitch for why legislative members should support their state parks.
During the afternoon, participants attended meetings with legislators and staff. During the meetings, participants highlighted how parks supported them during the COVID-19 pandemic and why legislators should support legislative and budget priorities that protect and preserve California state parks, for the benefit of all.
In addition to our legislative advocacy day activities, California State Parks Foundation held a State Parks Fair, an educational fair in Capitol Park. The focus of the event was booths highlighting our goals for parks, featuring partners from across the state doing in-the-field work in parks.
The day wrapped up with a rally in Capitol Park to Rise Up for Parks. The rally featured legislative members, youth speakers, and giveaways.
First, Assemblymember Eduardo Garcia (Coachella Valley) , Assemblymember Wendy Carrillo (Los Angeles), Assemblymember Cristina Garcia (Bell Gardens), Assemblymember Eduardo Garcia (Coachella), Assemblymember Robert Rivas (Salinas), Assemblymember Jesse Gabriel (San Fernando Valley), and Tatiana Butte, a Leadership Program graduate and field instructor at Outdoor Outreach, discussed the absence of funding in the state budget for grants to increase the ability of Californians from park-poor communities and those with lower incomes to participate in outdoor environmental education experiences.
Then, Senate Majority Leader Mike McGuire (Healdsburg), the state senator with the most state parks in his district, thanked Park Advocacy Day participants for their advocacy and encouraged them to keep rising up for parks to get additional investments in climate resiliency, equitable access, and deferred maintenance.
Then, Mindy Phan, University of California at Berkeley student and Leadership Program graduate from Outdoor Outreach, talked about traveling to state parks the weekend before Park Advocacy Day to enjoy surfing and hiking while learning about the importance of advocacy.
And finally, Assemblymember Cottie Petrie-Norris, received the 2022 Legislative Champion Award in recognition of her passion for parks and dedication to spearheading the protection of California’s coast from climate change. Assembly Petrie-Norris is a leader in ensure that the responsible party for the October 2021 oil spills is held accountable for the toll on California’s idyllic coast.
Learn more about what California State Parks Foundation is advocating for at our legislative agenda webpage.