free hit counter code This popular CA state parks program would be axed under revised budget –

This popular CA state parks program would be axed under revised budget

SAN DIEGO (FOX 5/KUSI) — A popular program aimed at expanding access to California’s state parks will be entirely eliminated under the latest revision of Gov. Gavin Newsom’s budget proposal for the state’s next fiscal year.

The cut to funding for the California State Library Parks Pass, which is used by thousands of residents each year, comes as the state is contending with a $45 billion budget deficit, prompting painful cuts to a slew of programs.

Another state parks program, the Park Adventure Pass, also faced the chopping block in an earlier draft of the budget due to this shortfall had its funding restored in the newest draft released last Friday.

In a statement on Thursday, Rachel Norton, executive director for the nonprofit California State Parks Foundation expressed concern about the Library Parks Pass remaining at risk with the new budget proposal, describing it as a hit to Newsom’s “California for All” initiative.

The initiative aims to better the well-being of children through education about physical and mental health. A central aspect of the push, called “Outdoors Access for All,” focuses on giving Californians the ability to spend more time outside.

“The California State Library Parks Pass is critical to our state’s goal of a healthier, more equitable California for All,” Norton said. “The cost of entry can deter people from experiencing the natural wonders within these parks, thereby excluding them from the numerous physical and mental health benefits, educational opportunities, and recreational activities that these spaces offer.”

The Library Parks Pass, as well as the Park Adventure Pass, were created to be cornerstones of the California for All initiative. The program allows library card holders to check out vehicle day-use entry to participating parks.

Since it was launched back in 2021, over 33,000 Library Parks Passes have been made accessible across the state and have become one of the most borrowed items, according to the nonprofit.

A survey conducted by the nonprofit about the Library Parks Pass program found that the majority of people — about 63% — who checked out the passes previously considered cost to be their main reason for not visiting a state park before.

The nonprofit is calling on the legislature to restore half of the State Library Parks Pass program’s current funding levels, which would be about $3 million.

“It is incomprehensible that, after all the hard work to create and start administering this popular program, and documented success in achieving a key policy goal of the Newsom Administration, that the California State Library Parks Pass would lose funding,” said Norton.

With the release of the May revision, lawmakers will now begin negotiating the budget. Newsom will have until June 15 to sign off on a final balanced budget.

The Associated Press contributed to this report.

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