Making California State Parks More Climate-Resilient

A recently released report offers recommendations for keeping state parks healthy and robust, including acquiring additional land for conservation and recreation.

2 minute read

April 22, 2024, 10:00 AM PDT

By Clement Lau

Green hills with orange California poppies in bloom in foreground in Chino Hills State Park, California.

Chino Hills State Park in Southern California. | Dene' Miles / Adobe Stock

California's State Park System is the largest in the U.S.  This system includes 279 separate park units on 1.4 million acres, with more than 280 miles of coastline, 625 miles of lake and river frontage, almost 15,000 campsites, and 3,000 miles of hiking, biking, and equestrian trails. However, these cherished spaces are now increasingly threatened by climate change. For example, ancient sequoia groves are burning in more frequent and severe wildfires, coastal parks are being eroded by rising sea levels and intensifying storms, and endangered species in state parks are losing vital habitat.

As reported by Tara Lynn Wagner, the California State Parks Foundation has just released a 70-page report entitled Building a Climate-Resilient California State Park System. It defines climate-resilient state parks as those which "can prepare for, adapt to, and recover from climate impacts."  Specifically, this includes protecting natural and cultural resources, preserving park access, building climate-smart infrastructure, and educating Californians about parks and climate change. Climate-resilient parks also use clean energy and climate-smart land management to mitigate greenhouse gas emissions and contribute to statewide carbon neutrality.

The report offers the following recommendations:

  1. Rethink California State Parks’ representation in 30x30.
  2. Fund the full implementation of California State Parks’ Sea Level Rise Adaptation Strategy. 
  3. Authorize and fund permanent climate resilience staff across relevant California State Parks divisions (or program areas or functions) for a multidisciplinary approach to building climate resilience into all aspects of park management.
  4. Expand California State Parks’ internal capacity to assess and scope adaptation projects.
  5. Extend funding for California State Parks’ Wildfire and Forest Resilience Program beyond its current expiration in FY 2027–28, including hiring authority for permanent staff positions.
  6. Establish a pilot program for California state parks as community climate resilience centers.
  7. Fund a robust California State Parks acquisition program.

For more information, please read the source article and the report.

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