Parks and Recreation: Keeping California's Parks Healthy, Open and Accessible
California has city, county, state and national parks scattered throughout, making it envied for its protected natural resources that provide ecological services, draw tourists and give recreational pleasure.
Sierra Club founder John Muir is often referred to as the "father of the national park system" because of his early advocacy of that system and protecting what became Yosemite National Park. It's a natural, then, for Sierra Club California to rank protecting parks and their resources among our objectives.
In 2012, the California State Parks system, suffering from years of underfunding and ineffective management, barely escaped closure of 70 of its 278 parks. A budget deal crafted by the legislature and signed by Governor Jerry Brown kept the parks open. Other legislation, followed by appointment of a new parks director, began a period of restructuring and rethinking the system.
Now Sierra Club California staff and volunteers are focused on four key goals for the state park system:
• Ensuring that the resources, especially the ecological resources, are maintained and properly managed to ensure access to them by future generations;
• Ensuring that new, sustainable revenues are procured to support the system;
• Ensuring that despite new park fees that may be imposed, the parks remain accessible to all Californians, regardless of their means; and
• Ensuring that the system is effectively organized and governed in perpetuity.
In the summer of 2013, the governor appointed a special panel of distinguished Californians to lead a year-long effort, called Parks Forward, to study and develop a strategy for strengthening the state parks.
Sierra Club California volunteers have formed a Parks Committee to help guide SCC's park advocacy. We are actively following the Parks Forward effort. If you would like more information about how you can be involved in the Club committee, click here.
Links to Sierra Club California Documents Addressing Parks Issues:
2013 Letter to Parks Forward Commission on key considerations for improving the California State Parks system.