On Thursday, Governor Gavin Newsom signed legislation that is expected to bring “equitable access” to California State Parks, particularly for young children.
Partnered by First Partner Jennifer Siebel Newsom, the legislation — known as bill AB 148 — is introducing a three-year pilot program called the California State Park Adventure Pass. The program will be waiving day-use entrance fees to 19 different state parks for fourth graders and their families for a full year.
Jennifer Newsom, who is the head of the California For ALL Kids initiatives that focus on children’s education, mental health and physical health, believes that engaging California’s youth with nature is going to be good for their “hearts, minds and bodies.”
“Nature is a public good and a crucial public health tool,” Newsom said in a statement. No state is better-positioned than California to leverage the great outdoors to augment our communities’ health and well-being — especially for youth in underserved communities.”
This effort comes weeks after Gov. Newsom signed SB 129, which introduced a $5.6 million investment to help fund the new Pass, as well as an extra $3 million to go towards the new State Library Park Pass, which is a two-year pilot program that coordinates with AB 148 to ensure libraries have the ability to provide park passes.
“With the leadership of the Governor and First Partner, California was able to create for the very first time innovative access programs for children and families to explore state parks,” said California State Parks Director Armando Quintero. “More diverse communities will have the opportunity to become part of California’s landscape, enjoy the physical and mental benefits of connecting with nature, and be inspired to take care of these treasured places for future generations.”
These efforts towards bringing awareness to California’s park accessibility have been noticeable since 2019 when Newsom and the California State Parks Foundation launched “Pathways to Parks.” According to their website, the initiative’s mission is to “break down barriers and build stronger accessibility to parks.”