FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
(Sacramento, Calif., May 14, 2021)— California Governor Gavin Newsom today proposed a revised state budget that will invest billions of dollars towards the conservation of the state’s environment, the expansion of access to nature for all Californians, especially residents of disadvantaged communities. and improve the state’s resiliency to climate change. The proposed plan capitalizes on an unexpected state budget windfall and comes as part of the revised state budget presented today to lawmakers. It includes millions of dollars to expand membership in state parks, fund deferred maintenance of outdoor spaces, create new urban green space, and more. into much-needed environmental programs.
“Audubon applauds the Governor’s leadership in setting an ambitious environmental agenda and proposing a bold state budget to meet those goals,” said Sarah Rose, executive director of Audubon California. “The fact is, our state faces dire threats. With the ongoing drought, imminent fire season, and other growing impacts of climate change, California has no time to waste in investing nature-based solutions to climate change and improving the resilience of our residents, wildlife, and ecosystems.”
Governor Newsom’s budget builds on his executive order last fall committing the state to conserving 30 percent of its lands and waters for conservation and expanding access to nature for all Californians. The executive order also directed the state to take aggressive action to develop nature-based solutions to climate change, such as climate-smart forest and rangeland management that sequesters carbon and reduces wildfire risks.
“Many of California’s birds, fish, other wildlife, and native plants are in rapid decline due to habitat loss, and our challenges will only mount as impacts from climate change worsen,” said Mike Lynes, director of public policy for Audubon California. “With this budget, California is making the kind of significant investments in nature-based climate solutions that will protect communities, conserve biodiversity, and improve the state’s resilience to climate change.”
Among its provisions, Newsom’s budget proposal includes:
- $220m for efforts to restore the Salton Sea and mitigate the health effects of windblown dust to nearby communities
- $100m towards parks“The Governor’s budget will invest millions in local communities statewide
- $200m for green space in urban areas
- $65m for K-12 state parks education
- $100m towards deferred maintenance in state parks, especially those damaged by recent wildfires
- State parks passes for all California 4th graders and their families for a year
Governor Newsom’s announcement is part of a growing movement to expand access to nature for all Californians, especially for people of color and residents of disadvantaged communities. In 2021, Audubon California sponsored Assembly Bill 30, authored by Assemblymember Ash Kalra (D-Santa Clara), to establish access to nature and its benefits for everyone as state policy.
“The Governor’s budget will invest millions in programs to expand access to nature for all people in California,” said Juan Altamirano, associate director public policy for Audubon California. “Ready access to nature directly improves people’s physical and mental health, reducing stress and increasing overall quality of life. Nature belongs to everyone and appropriate, sustainable access to it is a basic human right.”
In 2020, the Center for American Progress and the Hispanic Access Foundation reported that two-thirds of disadvantaged communities are nature-deprived, with substantial consequences for their health and quality of life. The report recommended immediate action to address historic and ongoing nature inequities by increasing funding, implementing new programs, and working in partnership with Indigenous people, people of color, and residents of disadvantaged communities.
“Access to nature means more than just opening new parks, it includes practical actions to reduce historic barriers that have excluded many people, especially people of color,” said Altamirano. “Audubon also knows everyone deserves access to nature, to get out and see birds, hike trails, go fishing, or picnic with their family. As more people can get out and enjoy nature, the state will create more constituents that care about the welfare of our open spaces, and the birds, other wildlife, and native plants that depend on them.”
Jason Howe, firstname.lastname@example.org; 415-595-9245
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The National Audubon Society protects birds and the places they need, today and tomorrow. Audubon works throughout the Americas using science, advocacy, education, and on-the-ground conservation. State programs, nature centers, chapters, and partners give Audubon an unparalleled wingspan that reaches millions of people each year to inform, inspire, and unite diverse communities in conservation action. A nonprofit conservation organization since 1905, Audubon believes in a world in which people and wildlife thrive. Learn more at www.audubon.org and on Facebook, Twitter and Instagram @audubonsociety.