Policy Priorities: Climate Resiliency
California State Parks Foundation has six main goals that help to guide the work of the organization. One of these six is Climate Resiliency, building climate resilient parks and communities, so that California state parks can adapt to the impacts of climate change and remain protected and preserved for all Californians.
Climate Change and California’s Response
Climate change is an existential threat. It is caused by the overconsumption of the goods and activities that produce greenhouse gases. These goods and activities include personal vehicle use, agricultural waste, and fossil fuels generated by refineries. California elected officials have been, and continue to be, ahead of their time on attacking the root causes of climate change. Over the last two decades, California has led the nation, and at times the world, on automobile standards, emission reduction goals and renewable energy procurement. For those who want to keep track, Berkeley Law’s California Climate Policy Dashboard is regularly updated with state policy changes on climate change.
Since Governor Newsom took office in 2020, he has proposed three large scale policy changes to address climate change — banning new fracking permits in 2024, conserving 30% of California’s land, inland water, and ocean area by 2030, and banning the sale of gasoline cars by 2035. A key priority in the Governor’s 2022-23 budget is combating the climate crisis, proposing $37 billion to reach this lofty goal. In an informal nod to his commitment, after the 2022-23 budget was released, he asked each of his agency secretaries, with duties spanning from education to health care, to identify how their agency will work to combat climate change.
Our Policy Priorities to Create Climate Resilient State Parks
As promising as these policy changes are, our beloved state parks remain at the forefront of devastation caused by rising temperatures, devastating wildfires, extreme weather, and rising sea levels.
Wildfires destroy beloved vistas while threatening the safety of state park employees and their families. Extreme weather patterns cause changes in the habitats and food sources of native plants and animals, leading to loss of biodiversity. One-quarter of the California coastline is comprised of state beaches, and these iconic parks are projected to experience a foot of sea level rise in the next 30 years.
California State Parks Foundation is committing to champion policies to adapt and mitigate the effects of climate change in state parks. We also support broader policies to halt or reverse the trajectory of climate change when the impact of those policies directly affects state parks.
Specifically, California State Parks Foundation will urge the legislature and the state of California to:
Map the effects of climate change on park landscapes to plan for and implement adaptation and mitigation of the effects of climate change
Invest in scalable science-based solutions to adapt and mitigate the effects of climate change in state parks like living shorelines and controlled burns, when appropriate for park ecosystems
Streamline the permit process for projects that mitigate climate change
Support regional engagement, with particular focus on diverse communities, in planning for the effects of climate change
Educate all park visitors about climate change, how parks are working to adapt and mitigate climate change, and how visitors can incorporate changes into their own lives
Increase public transportation to state parks, while equally focusing on quality of experience for visitors
Reduce single use plastics and increase sustainable waste streams in state parks and California
Prioritize biodiversity and future resiliency of lands while conserving land and water in California
Provide relief from extreme heat to state park visitors and Californians
Many of these policy priorities are a continuation of work we have already done in Sacramento. California State Parks Foundation successfully advocated to get $11.5 million in the 2021-22 state budget for the California Department of Parks and Recreation to address sea-level rise in state parks. Building upon this effort, in February 2022, California State Parks Foundation provided comments to the California Natural Resources Agency, coordinating the conservation of 30% of California land, inland water, and ocean area by 2030, known as 30x30. We urged the California Natural Resources Agency to go above and beyond this initial investment to invest in long-term climate resiliency adaptive management, monitoring, and stewardship in state parks.
The California state park system contains some of the state’s most priceless natural and cultural resources. As climate change stresses these places, it is crucial that the legislature and governor support the California Department of Parks and Recreation to maintain appropriate stewardship of state parks. California State Parks Foundation will be at the table advocating for climate resiliency in our state parks.