About Us | Cal Parks

About Us

With our community of supporters, we deliver innovative solutions for an excellent parks system by facilitating park improvements, inspiring stewardship, supporting partners, advocating for sound policies, and connecting people to parks. Together we ensure that the natural beauty, rich culture and history, and recreational and educational opportunities of our 280 state parks are available for all to enjoy now and for generations to come.

CSPF's Annual Reports and other financial information:

Our History

"We not only must live with our day-to-day decisions, but we must be responsible for long-range decisions, the results of which may not show up for several hundred years." — William Penn Mott, Jr.

The California State Parks Foundation (CSPF) was founded by William Penn Mott, Jr., former director of both California's Department of Parks and Recreation and the National Park Service, in 1969. Mott was perhaps the most influential professional in the parks field of the last half of the twentieth century. Early in his career Mott served in the National Parks Service, Oakland Parks Department, and the East Bay Regional Park District. In 1967, Governor Ronald Reagan appointed Mott as the director of the California Department of Parks and Recreation. He served in this position from 1967 to 1974.

During that time he also founded the California State Parks Foundation, served as president and CEO, and maintained association with it through 1985. During that period, land and historic artifacts worth over $50 million were acquired and deeded over to state parks.

Over the years, CSPF grew from a small organization to the largest statewide nonprofit dedicated to state parks across the entirety of California.

Our State Parks

Our 280 state parks are an impressive and important system. On average, they draw between 65 and 80 million visits per year. To put that into perspective … the ENTIRE National Parks Service system across the United States gets an estimated 280 million visits per year. The size and complexity of the California state parks system is highly impressive and important by any standard.

One of the largest state parks systems in the United States, California state parks are priceless resources that enrich our state — and the lives of Californians — in many ways:

  • State parks attract 65.5 million visitors each year and generate $6 billion in annual economic activity.
  • With 1.5 million acres of land and 320 miles of protected coastline, state parks offer more than 4,500 miles of hiking, biking, and equestrian trails; 3,195 historic buildings; and more than 11,000 known prehistoric and historic archaeological sites.
  • Home to native plants and animals found nowhere else, state parks are havens for extraordinary biodiversity that ranks California among the world’s top 25 biological hotspots.
State Parks History

The California state parks system of 280 parks is one of the biggest and most diverse state parks systems in the United States and the world. It was really created out of citizen action and continues to be defended by citizen action to this day.

Some early examples of the start of the park protection and preservation movement:

  • The first redwood state park - Redwoods protection effort by concerned citizens at Big Basin leading to Save the Redwoods League and Sempervirins, and fought to create the first commission for state parks.
  • Urban parks in Los Angeles – Started with a scrappy group of soccer coaches and players in LA who fought hard to turn a brownfield/industrial area into what is now Rio de Los Angeles and LA State Historic parks.

This history of citizen engagement to identify places of value, to engage with them and to engage policymakers in ensuring protection for natural resources and this is our proud legacy. This history is true to the California spirit and is at the heart of our state parks system.

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Federal Tax ID #: 94-1707583


Main Office (San Francisco)
33 New Montgomery Street, Suite 520, San Francisco, CA 94105
Phone: (415) 262-4400
Fax: (415) 772-8969

Sacramento Office
1510 J Street, Suite 220, Sacramento, CA 95814
Phone: (916) 442-2119
Fax: (916) 442-2809