VICTORY: Equitable Access to California State Parks | Cal Parks

VICTORY: Equitable Access to California State Parks

We believe all Californians should be able to access the inspiring beauty and healing benefits of parks. Connecting Californians to their state park system, reducing financial barriers to visiting state parks, and funding transportation to parks will encourage more people to visit time after time — ultimately inspiring more champions for the state park system. 

California State Parks Foundation, in partnership with California’s First Partner Jennifer Siebel Newsom and many other partners, has been working for years to establish stronger access to parks through our Pathways to Parks initiative. 

Last week, we had a major win for park access! On July 22, Governor Gavin Newsom signed legislation that advances the state’s commitment to equitable access to California state parks.  

We are thrilled to see these two pieces of legislation that expand access for all: 

  • Assembly Bill 148 establishes the California State Park Adventure Pass, a three-year pilot program that waives day-use entrance fees to 19 state parks for fourth graders and their families for a full year.  

  • Senate Bill 129 legislation that includes $5.6 million to fund the new State Park Adventure Pass, as well as $3 million to establish the State Library Park Pass, a new two-year pilot program that allows library cardholders to check out state park passes and gain free day-use access to state parks. 

In June 2021, California State Parks convened a gathering at Tomales Bay State Park to discuss youth access with First Partner Jennifer Siebel Newsom and many other environmental partners. Pictured here: California’s First Partner hears from youth kayakers from Environmental Traveling Companions (a Marin-based program that supports youth and people with disabilities to experience wilderness and outdoor activities.)

Our Pathways to Parks Initiative

Launched in collaboration with California’s First Partner Jennifer Siebel Newsom, California State Parks Foundation’s Pathways to Parks is a comprehensive initiative to introduce and advocate for solutions that increase equitable access to California’s state parks. 

Together, we  work to achieve the following impact:

  • Strengthening our Access for All coalition and mobilizing around key policy solutions, such as expanding the national Every Kid Outdoors program to state parks

  • Deepening our engagement with our coalition as we work to understand the current state of culturally relevant outdoor education and how it can expand to further our Pathways to Parks agenda and meet emerging needs due to COVID-19

  • Evaluating scalable program models to impactfully engage youth in state park experiences that lead to measurable health and wellness outcomes 

In February 2020, we convened a gathering in Los Angeles to highlight the importance of increasing access to the outdoors as a public health solution, especially for underserved youth. Pictured here: A group photo after a youth roundtable at Will Rogers State Historic Park with First Partner Jennifer Siebel Newsom, California State Parks Foundation, the Department of Parks and Recreation, and Community Nature Connection.

California State Parks Foundation is excited about these critical investments and looks forward to continuing to partner with the State of California to implement these new programs and evaluate their further scalability to reach every Californian.