California’s state parks system was proposed to be shut down to the public—first in January 2008, again in May 2009, and most recently in May 2011. These proposals have been eye-opening to all Californians who want to see their state parks accessible and available, now and into the future. Yet often in times of crisis, opportunities and new ideas emerge. In the short-term, California’s state parks need to survive current financial shortfalls and address the burgeoning deferred maintenance backlog. But beyond this, the future system needs to broaden its appeal to meet the needs of a changing population.
Released in 2011, A Vision for Excellence for California’s State Parks is a report of the Park Excellence Project, a joint undertaking of CSPF and Save the Redwoods League. Work began in late 2009 to engage Californian’s in a public dialogue about what excellence in California’s state parks system should look like and to reexamine the ways in which parks are supported, financed, protected, managed, promoted, and maintained. The report provides a statewide vision for the future of California state parks. When fully realized, that vision results in an excellent California state park system that will:
The impetus for the Park Excellence Project began in mid 2005 when CSPF looked closely at the overall fiscal picture facing California’s state park system. As CSPF worked to identify ways to improve the financial health of the system, it become important to identify a vision that would invite Californians to the work of sustaining and improving state parks. This new vision must reflect Californians’ views about the purpose of our state parks, as well as their desires for specific park experiences, programs, services, and amenities.
The report is the first step in laying the foundation for excellence. The challenges to excellence in our state parks are clear, but so are the ways in which progress can be made in addressing and overcoming those challenges. We hope the report will also serve as an invitation to its readers and as a roadmap to get us started in the challenging, yet vital, pursuit of excellence for California’s state parks.
To share your ideas on how you would like to work on achieving excellence for state parks, contact firstname.lastname@example.org.