Standing on the corner of Mission and 16th Street in San Francisco, a mixed neighborhood of yuppies and the Latino working class, Carlos Lopez, 19, said he’s heard of Mount Tamalpais State Park. But he thinks it’s far away and isn’t sure how to get there. When told it is only about 10 miles north of where he was standing, he was a little surprised. The images of rolling hills and rocky shores shown on an iPhone stoke his imagination. “Man, this is nice,” he said. “Now I want to go.”
As reported by the Huffington Post, like Lopez, many people who grew up in San Francisco don’t know where Mt. Tam is has become a major concern for those who care about the future of California’s state parks. In recent years the parks have suffered some serious setbacks, from cuts in funding to charges of mismanagement of those funds. In 2013 an investigation by the state attorney general’s office found that park officers knowingly kept funds worth $20 million hidden, even though 70 of the state’s 280 parks were up for closure.
This year Parks Forward, an independent commission dedicated to assisting California’s Department of Parks and Recreation, released a set of recommendations to fix what many parks advocates have called a “major crisis.”
Among its recommendations are ways to modernize the parks. These include allowing park facilities that charge a fee to accept ATM and credit cards so they aren’t cash-only, and using digital tools to entice people, especially young people, to go to the park.
That’s why Parks Forward, made up of experts, advocates and thought leaders, is creating an app called CaliParks to encourage young people to visit the state’s 1.6 million acres of pristine parks and beaches.
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