Out of doors Entry for All: California Establishes New Pilot Packages to Develop Youth Entry to State Parks

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The California State Park Adventure Pass gives fourth graders of the state a free annual pass to 19 California state parks

The State Library Parks Pass offers library card holders free day passes to the state park for libraries across California

SACRAMENTO – Today, Governor Gavin Newsom signed law to promote the state’s commitment to equitable access to California’s state parks. Sponsored by first partner Jennifer Siebel Newsom, whose California for ALL Kids initiatives support the physical, mental, and socio-emotional well-being of children, the legislation provides for a pilot program in which every fourth grader receives a free annual pass to select California state parks.

“Nature is a public good and an important public health tool. For both adults and children, time in nature is good for our heart, mind and body, ”said first partner Jennifer Siebel Newsom. “No state is better placed than California to use nature to improve the health and well-being of our communities – especially for youth in underserved communities.”

Photo 1: First partner Jennifer Siebel Newsom with students from Environmental Traveling Companions. Photo courtesy California State Parks Foundation. Photo 2: First partner Jennifer Siebel Newsom and Armando Quintero, director of the California Department of Parks and Recreation, with park access advocates and students. Photo courtesy California State Parks.

AB 148 introduces the California State Park Adventure Pass, a three-year pilot program that eliminates one-day entry fees to 19 state parks for fourth graders and their families for a full year. Earlier this month, the governor also signed SB 129, a bill that includes $ 5.6 million to fund the new State Park Adventure Pass and $ 3 million to set up the State Library Park Pass, a new two-year pilot program for deployment State park passes for libraries across the state that library users can check out for free access to state parks.

“Access to nature is a critical component to the health and wellbeing of our children, and these pilot outdoor access programs have set us on the path to expanding access to nature and promoting children’s health,” said Wade Crowfoot, secretary of the California Natural Resources Agency. “I am excited to continue to work with First Partner and California State Parks to break down barriers and expand state park access for children and residents of low-park communities.”

In 2019, the First Partner and the California State Parks Foundation launched Pathways to Parks, an initiative to bridge the natural gap and to expand park access for California youth. Since then, the First Partner has met with California youth, state park officials, and community leaders to learn about the positive effects nature has on the physical and mental health of young people.

According to a recent report, 70 percent of low-income communities across the country live in natural areas. Studies show that access to parks and green spaces can lead to improvements in children’s physical well-being, social, emotional learning, and academic outcomes as children experience less stress and become more excited about school. One study found that every dollar invested in physical activity trails resulted in $ 2.94 in medical benefits.

“Under the leadership of the governor and first partner, California has for the first time created innovative access programs for children and families to explore state parks,” said Armando Quintero, director of California State Parks. “More diverse communities will have the opportunity to become part of the California landscape, enjoy the physical and mental benefits of connecting with nature, and be inspired to nurture these precious places for future generations. We look forward to the continued partnership with the administration and the legislature. “

With 280 state park units, over 340 miles of shoreline, 970 miles of lake and riverside, 15,000 campsites, and 4,500 miles of hiking trails, the California Department of Parks and Recreation is home to the largest and most diverse range of recreational, natural, and cultural heritage sites in the country.

The full text of AB 148 can be found at: https://leginfo.legislature.ca.gov/faces/billNavClient.xhtml?bill_id=202120220AB148

The full text of SB 129 can be found at: https://leginfo.legislature.ca.gov/faces/billNavClient.xhtml?bill_id=202120220SB129

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