For Immediate Release
May 13, 2022
Today, Governor Gavin Newsom released the May Revision to his 2022-23 state budget proposal, announcing a historic budget surplus of $97.5 billion. While there are some investments in state parks in the proposal, we are concerned that pressing needs in California state parks are continuing to go unmet.
California State Parks Foundation remains grateful to Governor Newsom and First Partner Jennifer Siebel Newsom for their incredible support of state parks priorities, especially the Outdoors for All initiative, as champions for access for every Californian to experience state parks. We have seen incredible investments with the California State Park Adventure Pass for 4th graders and their families, a California State Library Pass through the Check Out Parks program, and a revamped Golden Bear Pass Program with CalWORKs — all work California State Parks Foundation championed in the Pathways to Parks initiative. Currently, the California State Library Pass Program is a pilot, but gaining traction, and we are thrilled to see the Governor put $13.5 million in this budget to expand the program.
These investments in equitable access to get Californians into parks are also matched with investments in the places themselves. Colonel Allensworth State Historic Park will receive $40 million for a new visitor center, providing better programming an educational opportunities that will enhance and further understanding and celebration of the historic site. We are also excited to learn that the state is moving forward on the Governor’s stated goal of adding a new state park to the system, bringing more Californians access to the state parks. The California Department of Parks and Recreation will be evaluating the Dos Rios Ranch Preserve property near Modesto as a potential acquisition, 2,100 acres between San Jose and Modesto.
However, while acquiring the Dos Rios Ranch Preserve property is an important step towards realizing the longtime vision for expanding park access in the Central Valley, we must point out that California’s state park system lacks sufficient funding to maintain the park units we already have. As a reminder, the state park system has a deferred maintenance backlog of $1.2 billion that has to be addressed. In the state’s 2021-22 budget parks received $200 million in funding towards addressing this backlog, which we regard as a good start but not nearly sufficient to resolve the issue.
In January, the Governor proposed $20 million in additional funding for deferred maintenance in state parks, which pales in comparison to the $200 million the year before, and doesn’t come close to the $1.2 billion needed. We hope the Governor and Legislature will fix this problem in the final budget approved next month to address the long-standing need for parks to be safe and enjoyable for visitors now and for future generations.
Californians flocked to their state parks during the COVID-19 pandemic, including many first-time visitors, enjoying the incredible health, wellness, and recreational benefits of these 279 wonderful places. This surge in new park stewards has been incredible to see across the state of California. With the increased visitation, we need more, not less, investment in our parks.
It is crucial that we protect and preserve these places that continue to give us so much. With the unprecedented $97 billion budget surplus available this year, we strongly encourage the Governor and Legislature to seize this opportunity to invest in sustaining and restoring our parks. If not now, then when?