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Report: Attracting new and diverse visitors key to future of California state parks

Hikers in the Santa Monica Mountains.
Hikers in the Santa Monica Mountains.
Pedro Szekely/Flickr

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A report released today from the Parks Forward Commission calls for a “fundamental transformation” of the state park system that the panel hopes will secure more funding and attract new visitors to the 1.6 million acres of state parks throughout California.

Key recommendations from the report include creating a statewide non-profit organization that would help bring in more funding for projects within the state parks. It also says that park access should be expanded to help attract new and more diverse types of visitors.

Getting the funding necessary to go through with these improvements is easier said than done. Governor Jerry Brown’s budget has set aside $16.8 million to keep the state park system running at its current level.That doesn’t include another $20 million earmarked for overdue maintenance, and even that is just a small portion of the total bill of more than $1 billion.

Do the recommendations from Parks Forward set the state park system on the right track? What else can be done to bring new visitors to California state parks?


Manuel Pastor, Ph.D., member of the Parks Forward Commission and professor of American Studies and Ethnicity at USC.

Carolyn Christian, president of the California League of Park Associations (CALPA)

Jose Gonzales, founder of Latino Outdoors, a group that works to change the narrative of how Latino communities connect with the outdoors

Michael Woo, Dean, College of Environmental Design at Cal Poly Pomona