New report details funding needed statewide to protect natural lands and address deferred park maintenance and wildfire and storm damage
SAN FRANCISCO, Calif. (June 14, 2023) —Save the Redwoods League today released a new report, daylighting critical funding needs across the California State Parks system. It urges state legislators to make necessary investments statewide through a 2024 climate bond measure or the annual budget process.
Recent wildfire and storm damage add to more than $1 billion in deferred park maintenance and more than a decade without an active land acquisition program. Together, these accumulating costs demonstrate that California State Parks does not have the sufficient funding and resources it needs to continue providing equitable outdoor access for all, preserving the state’s biodiversity and bolstering the state’s climate resilience.
“California’s unrivaled state park system was built on a backbone of old-growth redwood parks. In fact, California State Parks is the largest public redwood forest manager, which means the health of the redwood forests depends on a healthy California State Parks system,” said Sam Hodder, president and CEO of Save the Redwoods League.
“Our longtime park partners are doing an amazing job in light of significant resource challenges, growing visitation and climate impacts. To continue providing unique and inspirational park experiences for millions of visitors every year and investing in our climate resilience, state legislators need to uphold California’s legacy of conservation leadership and deliver adequate funding for California State Parks.”
Save the Redwoods League calls on legislators to make investments in land acquisition and deferred maintenance and to provide at least $500 million for park improvement projects and $200 million for natural resources management in a 2024 climate bond.
Why California State Parks needs increased and sustained support
- With 280 park units, the California State Parks System protects the largest and most diverse recreational, natural and cultural heritage holdings of any state agency. This includes 140,000 acres of coast redwood forests (40% of the world’s protected redwoods), 340 miles of coastline, 5,200 miles of trails and 15,000 campsites.
- Across all park units, there is a $1.2 billion deferred maintenance backlog. There are 49 coast redwood and giant sequoia state parks (17.5% of California’s state parks), and they carry $324 million (27%) of the deferred maintenance projects.
- Recent storms wreaked havoc throughout the state, causing an additional $72 million in damage in December 2022 and January 2023. Of that, $10 million (13.9%) in damage occurred in redwood and sequoia parks. This damage, along with that from recent fires and other emergencies, are identified as projects to be only partially funded through the Federal Emergency Management Agency by as much as 75% of the costs.
- More than 68 million visitors from around the world travel to California’s 280 park units every year with 14 million (20.6%) visiting the redwood and sequoia parks annually.
- Without an active and robust land acquisition program for the last 14 years and with inconsistent funding for facilities maintenance, park improvements, staffing and more, California State Parks cannot keep pace with growing visitation while continuing to provide equitable outdoor recreation experiences.
- The success of California State Parks is vital to several high-priority state initiatives. Gov. Gavin Newsom’s Outdoors for All initiative promises access to California’s prized landscapes for everyone, regardless of background or location. The state’s bold plan for climate leadership through California’s 30×30 Initiative and the California Climate Adaptation Strategy call for accelerating land conservation and for investing in nature-based solutions to climate change. California’s state parks serve as the ideal foundation for climate leadership, offering climate-resilient landscapes, carbon sinks, equitable park access and a restoration and stewardship economy.
California State Parks’ budget must reflect its leadership role in advancing the state’s climate plans, and State Parks must be recognized as a vital partner in ensuring a resilient future for California. The unpredictable pattern of funding over the last few decades is unsustainable and is taking a toll on this world-class state park system.
To schedule an interview, contact Liza Batallones at 415-766-0846 or [email protected].
Save the Redwoods League is one of the nation’s longest-running conservation organizations, and it has been protecting and restoring redwood forests since 1918. The League has connected generations of visitors with the beauty and serenity of the redwood forests. Our 240,000 supporters have enabled the League to protect more than 220,000 acres of irreplaceable forests in 66 state, national and local parks and reserves. For information, please visit SaveTheRedwoods.org.