California Program That Gives Park Passes to Library Users Survives Budget Talks

California Program That Gives Park Passes to Library Users Survives Budget Talks

A view from the Point Lobos State Natural Reserve. (Karen Gough)

Summer Lane
Summer Lane


Updated: 6/26/2024


The budget agreement between Gov. Gavin Newsom and California lawmakers calls for continued funding of a popular program allowing public library cardholders to gain day-use entry to more than 200 state parks.
The 2024–25 budget agreement this week authorized $6.75 million that will allow the California State Library Parks Pass program to operate until December 2025, the parks foundation stated.
With 280 parks in the state system, the pass gets residents into most recreational areas in California.
The program was launched in 2022 with the support of First Partner Jennifer Siebel Newsom’s Outdoor Access for All initiative, the California State Parks Foundation, and the California State Library system.
“Time in nature has proven to support our mental health and well-being,” Ms. Newsom said in a video supporting the program.
According to the state foundation, more than 5,000 grassroots advocacy emails urging support for the library program were sent to legislators this year following spring budget proposals that could have eliminated it.
“There has been no point where the budget was actually not funded,” California State Library spokesperson Alex Vassar said.
Each library park pass is valid for the entry of one vehicle with up to nine people into participating parks, including popular destinations like Point Lobos State Natural Reserve near Monterey, the Big Basin Redwoods Park near Santa Cruz, and Millerton Lake near Fresno. Over 7,000 passes have been checked out from the San Francisco Public Library since 2022.
“They are physical passes and they each allow one vehicle through at a time,” Mr. Vassar said. When cardholders are done using the pass, they simply return it to their local library.
Over the past two years, 33,000 passes have been distributed to California’s libraries. The parks said that areas with higher populations and higher poverty rates receive extra passes.
In a recent California Parks Foundation survey, 63 percent of state respondents indicated that their main reason for not visiting recreational areas was the cost. Ninety percent of those respondents “now plan to visit state parks over seven times a year” because of the library park pass program, according to the data.
“These passes provide free entry to parks for people who may not be able to afford the day-use fee, as well as introduce new audiences to our state parks, and we know that any time we can get people into parks, it benefits their mental and physical health,” California State Parks Foundation Director Rachel Norton told The Epoch Times on June 25.
She also called the continued funding a “wonderful win” for Californians.

Summer Lane is the bestselling author of 30 adventure books, including the hit "Collapse Series." She is a reporter and writer with years of experience in journalism and political analysis. Summer is a wife and mother and lives in the Central Valley of California.

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