California State Parks awards $57 million in Outdoor Equity Program grants to advance California’s “Outdoors for All” initiative

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Credit: Tuolumne River Trust

May 29, 2022 – SACRAMENTO, Calif. – California State Parks last week announced a $57 million investment for 125 low-income urban and rural communities to expand their access to outdoor experiences at state parks and other public lands.

“People from all over the world visit California to experience our state’s natural wonders, but too many young Californians are growing up without access to these invaluable opportunities,” said first partner Jennifer Siebel Newsom. “This grant investment will change that by expanding equity and access so thousands of young people and families can enjoy California’s immense natural beauty.”

Awarded through the new Outdoor Equity Grants program, the funding helps establish local activity centers and trips to natural areas for underserved communities. The program also enables youth and families to benefit from outdoor leadership training, career paths, a commitment to environmental justice, and access to nature.

“California State Parks is incredibly proud to announce a grant to strengthen access to parks and open spaces and contribute to a better quality of life for Californians,” said California State Parks Superintendent Armando Quintero. “These programs will transform parks into outdoor classrooms, inspiring a new generation of environmental leadership in California.”

For the program’s first grant cycle, State Parks evaluated 384 grant applications totaling $167.78 million in applications. The $57 million in grants were made available through general funds approved by the California Legislature and Governor Gavin Newsom in the 2020/21 and 2021/22 state budgets.

A few projects receiving grants are highlighted below, with the full list of projects available online at parks.ca.gov/oep.

Contra Costa County

City of Richmond: $700,000 was awarded to run the Youth Outdoors Richmond program for residents near the Nevin Community Center. This program will include approximately 99 days of activities in the community for approximately 12,000 participants and approximately 36 outings to natural areas for approximately 1,200 participants over the three years of programming. Some of the activities in the community will include leadership and skills development and stewardship in local parks. A camping trip to Calaveras Big Trees State Park, located about 158 ​​miles east of Richmond in Calaveras and Tuolumne counties, is one of the trips that will be available to the community.

Los Angeles County

Watts Labor Community Action Committee Outdoor Program: $700,000 has been awarded to residents near MudTown Farms. This program will include approximately 112 days of activities in the community for approximately 1,900 participants and approximately 100 outings to natural areas for approximately 1,800 participants over the four years of programming. Some of the activities in natural areas outside of the community include a beginner’s family camp at Hopkins Wilderness Park in Redondo Beach, kayaking in Marina del Rey’s manufactured harbor and an environmental experience in the Angeles National Forest at Strawberry Peak. and in the San Gabriel Mountains.

San Diego County

External awareness: $674,566 has been awarded to the City Heights Adventure Club program for residents near Crawford High School in the city of San Diego. This program will include approximately 72 days of activities in the community for approximately 1,000 participants and 216 outings to natural areas for approximately 3,100 participants over the four years of programming. Some of the trips to natural areas outside of the community will include half-day/after-school outings to the San Diego National Wildlife Refuge and Torrey Pines State Reserve. Participants will also be able to take part in a multi-day snowboarding trip to Snow Valley Mountain.

In 2019, the Outdoor Equity Grant Program was signed into law when Governor Gavin Newsom signed Assembly Bill 209 into law. The concept for the grant program began with the findings of the 2015 Parks Forward Commission report indicating that state parks need to expand park access for underserved communities and urban populations. . The 2015 Parks Forward discussions became a catalyst for AB 209. Californians shared a similar vision in 2017 during 30 focus groups with over 500 attendees for the Statewide Comprehensive Outdoor Recreation Plan. Across the state, from heavily urbanized to rural areas, Californians highlighted a desire for multi-generational programs that “bring families together,” activate local parks and take residents with transportation challenges to natural areas outside of their communities.

“Providing services across the state – including in many communities currently lacking adequate outdoor programs – will make a real and lasting difference in the lives of young people and all residents,” said Natural Resources Secretary Wade Crowfoot. “I am particularly excited about empowering young people to explore their leadership potential. It’s another way the State of California is working to improve the lives of all Californians.

Four in 10 Californians do not have access to open space within walking distance of their homes, and six in 10 Californians live in neighborhoods with poor parks. Programs such as the Outdoors Equity Grants program help advance the “Outdoor Access for All” initiative championed by Governor Gavin Newsom and First Partner Jennifer Siebel Newsom and the Resource Agency’s “Outdoors for All” initiative. natural. This effort expands outdoor access to all Californians through targeted investments in open space infrastructure, outdoor programming and improvements for permit applications, with a priority to expand access in underserved communities.
Source: CA. State Parks

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