A section of coastline in Andrew Molera State Park.

California’s state park system is under “serious stress” according to a new report from the California Parks Forward Commission. The report includes recommendations to tackle the system’s biggest challenges, including a severe maintenance backlog and a lack of permanent funding. We discuss the state of California’s parks and what can be done to help them.

Paul Rogers, managing editor of KQED Science and environment reporter for the San Jose Mercury News
Vicky Waters, deputy director of public affairs for the California Natural Resources Agency
Elizabeth Goldstein, president, California State Parks Foundation
Lance Conn, co-chair, Parks Forward Commission

  • Richard Rojas Sr.

    The LA Times also did a story on Jan 29th about Parks Forward Commission’s (PFC) Final Report’s release. See http://www.latimes.com/local/politics/la-me-pol-state-parks-20150130-story.html

    In reading posts by readers, it’s clear that many readers chose not to read the PFC report, or instead chose to share their ignorance by claiming that PFC’s recommendation to improve access, diversity and inclusiveness in CA State Parks for Latinos and other underserved residents ONLY means more soccer fields in pristine parks, loud music playing in trails, more graffiti and uncollected garbage. Please ask your guests to share what they really hope to accomplish? Moving forward, groups like Latino Outdoors and others are ready to educate, teach and lead our community to become responsible, active park users and stewards too!

    Richard A. Rojas Sr.
    Retired CA State Park Superintendent

  • Lois Martinez

    I didn’t support the vehicle tax is because some people have more than one car and or motorcycles per household.

  • Tom Scott

    I was at Castle Rock yesterday and as an old guy I came prepared with $8 in cash to park. But the three young men after me were bemused by the requirement for cash and didn’t have it. I saw them later on the trail so I would bet they gambled a ticket and just parked for free. I bet this happens all the time.

    • John Galt

      It sounds like they’re planning on putting in ticket machines that take credit cards.

  • Roland

    The two approaches your guests are talking about (MONEY first, versus PROGRAMS first) and natural approaches that need to be hammered out in an incremental fashion. However, in my experience, MANAGEMENT if a central cog that incompetence can derail (and has, apparently). Good managers and strong top leadership can mentor, lead, inspire and focus on priorities. When I hear fundamental squabbles like this one, this obvious deficit pops to the top.


  • Richard Rojas Sr.

    CA State Parks, its dedicated staff and community stakeholders do not currently have a Department Director. Ms. Waters, when is our governor going to appoint a new CA State Parks Director? The absence of leadership at the top, only seems to continue to perpetuate inaction. Without a Director, who will champion the Parks Forward Commission’s recommendations? Thanks for a very interesting program!

  • I read this report and was disappointed that it focuses exclusively on generating revenue. State parks should also reconsider its wasteful and destructive use of scarce resources to eradicate non-native plants and trees. Millions of dollars have been spent on these projects and when the public is aware of them they often strongly object to them. For example, European beach grass that stabilizes mobile sand dunes has been eradicated in coastal parks. Sand dunes are now killing trees and inundating neighboring private properties.

    The Commission claims that it wishes to “restore the public’s confidence in State parks.” State parks will not be able to gain the public’s trust as long it continues to ignore the public’s objection to the pointless and destructive eradication of non-native
    plants and trees. Nor will the public be willing to provide more funding to State parks if they believe it will be wasted on projects to which they object.

    Likewise, State parks must review its policies that limit recreational access to bicycles, people who are accompanied by their pets, etc. These activities are almost entirely prohibited in State parks.

    State parks are shooting themselves in the foot with these policies.

    • Jack Spratt

      Couldn’t agree more!

      When living in San Rafael in 2000 the State Parks Service spent tons of money removing Eucalyptus trees from China Camp – knowing full well at the time that a serious tree disease had broken out and was laying waste to most native species. The result, in addition to millions spent on this pointless exercise, was HUGE wheel ruts from the giant bucket loaders going up and down steep hills, cause serious erosion problems, and hillsides completely denuded, bereft of ANY trees.

      This is EXACTLY the kind of Soviet style stupidity that had the country with the largest land-mass on Earth importing large quantities of grain from the US. Having worked for the USFS, I was not at all surprised, as the gross incompetence I encountered in that organization would take a very fat book to detail.

      • Hey Jack! This commission is making a presentation to the Commonwealth Club next Tuesday, February 10th at 12:00. Come on down and tell these folks what it would take to regain the public’s trust. Raising more money isn’t the answer!!

  • Dan

    I was fine with the idea of adding cabins until your guest let it slip these would be built in existing campsites. Huh?? Finding a campsite within a 2 hour drive of the Bay Area on a spring, summer, or fall weekend less than 3 or 4 months in advance is about as likely as winning the lottery. The campsite capacity hasn’t even remotely kept pace with California’s population, and it is tautological to argue that rates of camping are down when all the sites are full and no one can find a place to camp. We should be talking about how to responsibly increase camping capacity, not about further decreasing the inadequate capacity we currently have.

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