Charting the Course for California State Parks

Strong partnerships between the League, CSP and others will help our beloved parks thrive.
Strong partnerships between the League, CSP and others will help our beloved parks thrive.

A report that will chart the course for the future of California State Parks (CSP) is closer to its final form. The Parks Forward Commission met in San Francisco last Wednesday to discuss the most recent draft of the Parks Forward Initiative report.

The report is the result of more than 70 hours of public meetings, as well as surveys, focus groups and a tremendous gathering of expert opinions on everything from finance to public health. As you may know, the League played a key role in founding the state parks system and since then, with your generous support, we’ve protected land in all 41 redwood state parks.

The draft articulates key findings of the commission’s review of the state of CSP, and the vision for a “new and improved” state park system. The report identifies several substantial and systemic upgrades including strong investment in technology, upgraded accounting and budgeting procedures, and a culture that rewards innovation, partnership and creativity; and concludes that only “broad-based, fundamental change” will enable the changes necessary for Parks excellence.

Throughout the draft report echoes the central message that collaboration between a multitude of groups will be crucial for success: “A huge opportunity exists to enhance protection and stewardship of parks by leveraging the vast talent and resources available among California’s business, volunteer, and nonprofit leadership” (9).

Why the certainty that this “huge opportunity” exists? The report later explains,

In the course of our public outreach, many partners came forward—from other public agencies, nonprofits, academic institutions, health care providers, and technology companies. They all share the goal of a vibrant, sustainable system of parks and a commitment to being a part of the future of parks in California. Realizing this vision of collaboration will take the collective action and commitment of a broad network of partners, state leaders and new and broader coalitions of engaged Californians (11).

Save the Redwoods League has been at the table throughout the Parks Forward process, and we’ve seen firsthand Californians’ passion and investment in our parks. This dedication to conservation made California a parks world leader 150 years ago, and that legacy lives on today.

Many of us recognize that we need our parks as much as they need us: Parks provide clean air and water. They are where we bring our children to explore, lead healthy lives and learn about the natural world. Parks are where we connect with each other, and where we find peace, solace and inspiration.

For 96 years, Save the Redwoods League has worked to protect the remaining ancient redwoods. And we have entrusted California State Parks with their care, so that future generations may enjoy these special places. We remain committed to renewing, reinvigorating and reimagining the state parks system that we helped create, and to being a leading partner in the future of our redwood state parks.

We are ready and willing partners of California State Parks as it undergoes this transformative journey, and we hope that you feel that way, too! Stay tuned for more on how we will work together moving forward.

The recommendations in the draft report will be further developed, with input from the public and CSP employees. A revised draft will be issued  later this summer. All Parks Forward Commission meetings are open to the public; we hope you’ll be a part of the conversation.

About the author

President and Chief Enthusiast for the Outdoors (CEO) of Save the Redwoods League, Sam brings more than 25 years of experience in overseeing land conservation programs from the remote wilderness to the inner city.

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