The Future of California State Parks

The Future of California State Parks
The Wedge cabin is a prototype for overnight lodging being developed for the state parks.

The state established the Parks Forward Commission in 2013 to find ways to improve the system and expand access. Increasing the number of affordable overnight options is key, as the group determined that residents need more ways to connect with the parks, whether or not they have tents. Cal Poly Pomona design students created four prototypes, including The Wedge, seen here, a 156-square-foot cabin that can be made in four days from recycled material. The model was built and debuted in 2014 at the California State Fair to rave reviews. It’s available to rent at Pfeiffer Big Sur State Park, and the state plans to put 13 Wedge cabins at Angel Island State Park later this year.

(We want to) make it clear what’s at stake. The park system is in peril. This whole process is to make people realize how intrinsically valuable the parks are in their lives.—Sean Woods, Superintendent Los Angeles sector, California State Parks 

Goals of the Parks Forward Commission
Expand Park Access: Make sure park users reflect the state’s ethnic, age, and income diversity. Establish community outreach programs to find people who don’t come to the parks. Team with nonprofits already working in communities. Make sure the interpretive centers are telling inclusive stories. Uncover the hidden stories, including immigration and migration, that represent the full American picture.

Engage Younger Generations: Establish training that inspires young people to get involved in the parks. Expand affordable, comfortable accommodations. Increase digital access with programs such as Google Trekker for 3-D images of trails in nearly half the parks, Wi-Fi expansion, and smartphone payment, which already is in place at three O.C. beaches.

Create a Transformation Team: Build an innovative staff with fresh ideas. Use resources better. Update the outdated and needlessly lengthy hiring process. Create more transparency in how much the parks cost to run.

Expand Partnerships: Create a statewide nonprofit partner and strengthen existing bonds with businesses and nonprofits. Team with philanthropic groups to increase outside funding.

Protect Resources: Build partnerships with public agencies and universities, as well as nonprofit cultural groups. Address and emphasize the effects of climate change on the parks.

Tips: Click here for some tips for visiting the state parks.

Parks close to home: Click here to find out about state parks in Orange County.

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