A Story of Park Transformation
We’re here to strengthen California State Parks – from urban parks in the hearts of our cities and beaches along our iconic coast, to historic parks celebrating the ingenuity of humanity.
California’s first publicly funded park was created more than a century ago in 1902. Since then, California has relied on partnerships to support park transformation by raising the money, strengthening the capacity and securing the resources needed to protect these remarkable lands and promote ongoing conservation efforts.
One of the state park system’s strongest allies in recent park transformation efforts was The Parks Forward Commission. This trusted independent panel of experts, citizens, and advocates assessed state parks and gave clear, actionable recommendations on how to make improvements.
In 2015, The Parks Forward Commission designed and adopted the Parks Forward plan. This long-term plan for park transformation charts out a financially sustainable and culturally relevant state park system that meets the needs of diverse communities in California by 2025.
The creation of Parks California was a key recommendation in the Parks Forward plan to help bring this inspiring vision to life. In 2016, the Senate passed SB 1111, and in 2018, articles of incorporation were filed to establish Parks California as an official California nonprofit public benefit corporation in support of the Department of Parks and Recreation.
The objectives of SB 1111 ensure State Park success.
The strategic statewide partnership between the California Department of Parks and Recreation and Parks California was designed to facilitate the implementation of reforms recommended by the Parks Forward Commission, and to develop and secure expertise, services, resources, and projects for the following purposes:
- To develop and engage new sources of public and private funding for the state park system, including philanthropic sources and enterprise and revenue generation activities.
- To support marketing and communications activities that promote the programs, amenities, and resources of the state park system, the Department, and its partners.
- To support projects and programs that facilitate park access and visitation and enhance educational opportunities, particularly among younger and more diverse audiences.
- To promote the health and well‐being of the state’s residents.
- To establish or improve, and support the completion of projects that establish or improve, state park visitor amenities and facilities.
- To recruit more diverse staffing and improve capacity for state park programs.
We know this is no small feat. But we are encouraged by the fact that Californians, by nature, want to help.
Read SB 1111
Read Memorandum of Understanding
Parks California complements and amplifies the work of its partners.
Parks California’s work is essential to California State Parks because it brings in new resources, expertise, and innovation to reach the following goals:
- Expanding park visitation by younger and more diverse individuals and families
- Designing educational and interpretive park programs that resonate with everyone
- Promoting healthy lifestyles and authentic connections to nature
- Improving protection and restoration of our parks’ natural and cultural resources
- Engaging all California communities and partners to help fund state parks
For decades, California government agencies, Indigenous people, nonprofits, foundations, and businesses have worked alongside the California Department of Parks and Recreation to help raise the money that makes services, programs, and amenities better in the state park system.
Download a one-sheet about Parks California here.
Parks California strengthens these long-standing valued partnerships and builds dynamic new ones.
Our diverse leadership, Board of Directors, and Advisory Council includes experts in business and finance, parks, resource management, education, marketing, and community engagement—all with the proven ability to contribute or raise funds.
Together, we can create meaningful park transformation – making our state parks welcoming, inclusive spaces where all people throughout California truly feel at home.