California's State Parks

What’s so important about our parks? Series includes explanatory articles, interactive timeline and maps, embedded media, and links to additional multimedia features.

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What’s A Park Worth?

INCLUDES: ARTICLE; KQED AUDIO CLIPS

Natural-Bridges State Beach, near Santa Cruz (credit: Ca. Dept. of Parks and Recreation)

“These state parks are our cathedrals. This is what defines us as Californians to the rest of the world.  But they are not cheap to run. And so I think Californians need to decide whether it’s worth it to them to save these parks … I think it begs a much deeper question of what we value as Californians.
- Ruth Coleman, California state parks director

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A (mini) Guide to California’s Parks

INCLUDES: INTERACTIVE MAPS AND KQED MULTIMEDIA LINKS

Click on the photo to explore KQED's radio and interactive series on California's parks.

California has a lot of state parks. 278 to be exact – more than any other state in the U.S. Some are tiny specks on the map – mini historic sites that you may have driven by without even noticing. Others are vast swaths of land – thousands of preserved acres of old growth forest, sweeping vistas, pristine beaches. Size and stature aside, each has it’s own significance, and the majority were spearheaded as a result of citizen-led campaigns to make the land public and accessible to anyone who wanted to visit. Continue reading

The Evolution of California’s State Parks

INCLUDES: INTERACTIVE TIMELINE

Credit: E. Howe/Flickr

In 2010, California voters rejected Proposition 21, which would have added an $18 annual surcharge to vehicle license fees and raised about $500 million annually to fund state park and wildlife conservation programs. Now, without the funding, nearly a quarter of the entire system’s sites – almost 70 parks – are in danger of being closed down. During difficult economic times, it’s no surprise that public resources like state parks are given low priority, especially compared to more urgent services like public safety. Continue reading