Offices of outdoor recreation have become increasingly popular across the country, and there are now offices in Washington, Colorado, Utah, Oregon, Montana, Vermont, North Carolina, and Wyoming, with New Mexico joining soon. Each state has a slightly different version of these offices, but typically they work to coordinate the protection and enhancement of outdoor recreation within a state. This means they work with state lands as well as national public lands, local parks, outdoor businesses, local recreation groups, and state officials to improve, protect, and benefit people’s outdoor experiences.
Although California has a large and thriving outdoor recreation scene, it has not yet joined the ranks of states with offices dedicated to coordinating and improving outdoor recreation. Last year, California’s state assembly passed a bill to establish an Office of Outdoor Recreation but at the last minute, it was vetoed by then-governor Jerry Brown. In his veto message, he stated the office’s responsibilities could be managed by the Department of Parks and Recreation. However, the Department of Parks and Recreation is responsible for maintaining the infrastructure of the state parks, while the office of Outdoor Recreation in California will focus on sustainable recreation practices that promote economic development, shaping policies to preserve the state’s pristine landscape, and creating healthy and equitable programs for all Californians to enjoy the outdoors.
This year, the California legislature introduced a new bill to establish a state office of outdoor recreation (AB1111). A few weeks ago, the bill nearly expired, but thanks to outreach from the outdoor community, including many of you, lawmakers moved the bill out of committee. California, like other states, has rules that require bills with a “fiscal impact” to be reviewed by the Assembly Appropriations Committee. Until that review, bills are held “in suspense” and they expire unless the committee reviews them by certain deadlines. In the last week of May, the Assembly passed AB1111 with overwhelming support (only three members voted no). The bill now goes on to the California Senate and will most likely be heard after the summer recess in mid-August.
Outdoor Alliance is supportive of this bill – you can read our full policy letter at right.
If you are from California and want to share your sentiments with your Senators, you can do that right here: