The Parks Forward Commission “is conducting a wholesale assessment of the California State Park system. This independent process is designed to address the financial, operational, and cultural challenges facing State Parks to ensure the system’s long-term viability.” It will produce a draft report in April and recommendations to the legislature in fall.
Please attend the upcoming meeting and share the Sierra Club message (see below), speaking up for preserving the park system and its ecosystems/values, providing dedicated funding, and curbing the expansion of off-road vehicle areas.
Public Health and Park Access Work Groups
Friday, March 14, 1 – 3 pm, David Brower Center, 2150 Allston Way, in Berkeley.
Parks Forward is an independent commission charged with conducting a wholesale assessment of California’s state park system. Made up of experts and thought-leaders, Parks Forward is designed to address the financial, operational, and cultural challenges facing State Parks to ensure the system’s long-term viability.
To accomplish its work, the Commission has been meeting both as a whole and in sub-groups to address specific issues (such as finances, partnerships, and public health). A key issue raised repeatedly by commissioners and the public is the need to improve access to parks, particularly in light of the state’s changing demographics.
The Berkeley work group meeting will be facilitated by Parks Forward Commissioner Carolyn Finney, a professor at UC Berkeley College of Natural Resources Department of Environmental Science, Policy, and Management and recognized expert on issues surrounding race and resources management.
The meeting will include discussions among commissioners, experts, and the public on how best to improve urban park access and provide workforce opportunities to those who are currently underrepresented. This is a unique opportunity to share with commissioners what you value about parks–we urge you to attend.
Additional information on this meeting and Parks Forward more generally can be found at www.parksforward.com.
Patricia Jones, co-chair, Sierra Club California State Parks committee
An additional meeting
On Monday, March 17, the Parks Forward Finance and Partnerships Work Group will meet to discuss three issues:
- maintaining the department’s unique and iconic cultural resources;
- using current technology to generate revenue;
- using public/private partnerships to expand alternative lodging options.
This meeting will be held at the Presidio Log Cabin, 1299 Storey Ave., San Francisco from 1 – 3 pm. For those unable to attend in person, there is an audio line (listen-in only) at: (877)615-4337 passcode: 6569665#. Public comment is welcome at the end of the meeting by those in attendance as well as via email@example.com. A map and parking details will be posted to www.parksforward.com in advance of the meeting.
Sierra Club suggestions for improving the draft report, based on the outline:
Section 1: History of Excellence
a. History of Leadership and Devotion: This subsection should include a discussion of the public trust requirements of the state parks system.
b. California’s World Class Parks: This subsection should include reference to Californians’ devotion to environmental quality, and the important role parks play in demonstrating and exemplifying that devotion.
Section 3: Challenges, Parks Forward Initiative, and Initial Findings
a. Analyses and State Response to Growing Crisis: Our organization took issue with the Little Hoover Commission conclusion that the parks system organization was obsolete. We do believe there can and must be improvements, but we do not concur with the LHC’s proposal to essentially divest the system of certain parks and its relatively unquestioning proposal to expand the “financial bridging” provided by local entities. While there were a number of good technical details in the report, we encourage the Parks Forward Commission to look well beyond this report for ideas and analysis. We question whether it, among the numerous reports produced by various entities, deserves to be highlighted in this subsection.
d. Parks Forward Commission Initial Findings: This subsection should include a discussion of the outpouring of public support expressed for the State Parks when parks were closed or threatened with closure.
d(ii) A Need for Fundamental Change: The needs listed in this sub-subsection of the draft outline glaringly misses noting the ecosystem services and environmental/open space/wildlife habitat provided by about a million acres of state parks lands. This is a core issue area and should be included among the competencies–even if it isn’t a competency that has been fully realized. Also, it’s important for the parks system to develop standards for managing the wildlands and ensuring that they continue to present ecosystem value and ecosystem services.
Section 4: California Parks’ Future
a. Natural Resources, Iconic Landscapes, Rich History, and Diverse Culture are Protected and Valued: This sub-subsection should include a brief discussion of the need for standards and best practices for management of natural lands in the state parks system. This can be expanded upon in subsection 5(a)
c. Parks Promote Active, Healthy Lifestyles and Communities: This subsection should emphasize activities that are consistent with the park system’s need to properly steward the natural resources and that also are consistent with the state’s goals to reduce air pollution, including greenhouse gas pollution.
Section 5: Charting a New Course
c. Promote Healthy Lifestyles and Communities: This subsection should note that, given the public trust responsibilities, the mission of the parks system, and the state’s goals, expanded recreational opportunities must be consistent with state’s environmental goals, and consistent with the protection of natural resources and ecosystem services of the parks.
d. Engage Youth: Emphasis should be on increasing youth appreciation for natural resources and ability to enjoy nature for decades.
Section 6: Implementation
f. Secure Stable Sources of Public Funding: This subsection should overtly address potential dedicated tax tools.