Legislature OKs Sen. Dodd’s Bill to Boost State Parks’ Partnership with Nonprofits
SACRAMENTO – The California Legislature today approved a bill from Sen. Bill Dodd, D-Napa, that would extend the ability of the state Department of Parks and Recreation to enter into agreements with nonprofits to help operate and maintain park facilities, improving parks and saving money.
“California parks are truly remarkable places and they are supported by hundreds of volunteers and nonprofit groups who devote their time and effort into making them that way,” Sen. Dodd said. “My proposal would allow these vital partnership to continue, ensuring our parks are sustainable and the best they can be for generations to come. I thank my fellow legislators for approving this bill.”
Existing law allows the state to partner with nonprofits for the improvement, restoration, maintenance and operation of state parks. That authorization is set to end on Jan. 1, 2025. Under Sen. Dodd’s proposal, Senate Bill 668, operating or co-management agreements with nonprofits would be allowed to be extended. Among other things, the agreements allow qualified nonprofit organizations to operate or co-manage a park unit, taking on functional and financial responsibilities for the park unit with the department. These partnerships have been vital to over a dozen state parks across the state, preventing closures during the recession in 2011, and making critical capital investments in preserving and enhancing parks.
SB 668 passed the Assembly with unanimous support after previously clearing the Senate. It heads next to the governor.
“Nonprofit partners have provided important, stable funding to California’s state parks that allows them to remain open and allow continued public access,” said Rachel Norton, executive director of California State Parks Foundation, which is sponsoring the bill. “But these partnerships are a two-way street. Partners need support and a measure of autonomy to thrive while they help parks thrive. That support and limited autonomy depends on the authority the park agency is granted through legislation like SB 668. We envision a future where every state park has a dedicated partner that helps with financial support, programming, staffing and community engagement, and SB 668 is a crucial step in reaching that future.”
“This forward-thinking legislation allows for the continuation of proven, successful nonprofit partnerships that provide essential support to parks like Jack London State Historic Park, to keep them thriving,” said Matt Leffert, Jack London Park Partners’ executive director. “Our state parks are California’s most precious resources and Jack London Park Partners is grateful for Sen. Dodd’s leadership to ensure we have the tools necessary to care for California’s most precious resource, the California state park system.”
“With a simple approach, SB 668 allows partnerships to continue to support our vital public trust resources,” Richard Dale, executive director of Sonoma Ecology Center. “These partnerships have brought thousands of new faces, tens of thousands of volunteer hours, and millions of dollars to our state parks, including several threatened with closure, while deepening relationships between the state and local communities.”
Sen. Bill Dodd represents the 3rd Senate District, which includes all or portions of Napa, Sonoma, Solano, Yolo, Contra Costa, and Sacramento counties. You can learn more about the district and Senator Dodd at www.sen.ca.gov/dodd.