California State Parks Releases Strategic Plan to further strengthen system, recreational programs

SACRAMENTO, Calif. — The California Department of Parks and Recreation (State Parks) has developed a five-year strategic plan to help shape the future direction of the state park system and the many recreational and conservation programs that serve California’s communities.

Named Path Forward, the strategic plan aligns with Governor Gavin Newsom’s Equity Executive Order N-16-2230X30 and Outdoor Access for All initiatives and will guide State Parks in strengthening operations to focus on key priorities and directing energy and resources toward meeting the goals and objectives. The themes, goals, and objectives in the plan are based on the foundational elements of access, inclusivity, and equity to provide optimal public service, strengthen partnership development, and empower the department’s workforce.

“The Path Forward strategic plan is about resilience and focusing on how we prepare the department for the century ahead,” stated State Parks Director Armando Quintero. “California needs these natural and cultural resources for everyone’s wellbeing. State Parks leadership, employees, and partners are committed to caring for your California. This is where you live.”

An employee workgroup composed of more than 100 frontline staff, managers, and supervisors representing all field regions, headquarters, and all program areas, was assembled to develop the Path Forward Plan. The vision, themes, goals, objectives, and core values were created and refined over several virtual meetings and reviewed by a partner and stakeholder advisory committee, employees, commissions, and executive staff along the way.

The input and perspective of stakeholders and partners helped to inform the final version of the plan and to ensure that the future of State Parks reflects the diverse experiences and priorities represented in the State of California.

Two factors set Path Forward apart from previous change efforts. Department staff from all levels developed the plan with input from partners, rather than an executive team taking a top-down approach. The second factor will begin in winter 2024 and involves an actionable implementation plan led by a committee made up of key leaders representing all program areas. The implementation plan includes interdisciplinary teams to carry out and manage projects tied to the goals and objectives of the plan. These teams will use a designated project management tool to develop specific plans, timelines, and evaluation metrics to achieve each goal. The teams will provide regular progress and status updates.

By using this strategic plan as a guide, a course of action has been developed to support State Parks in meeting challenges. The plan will also create new strategies for institutional growth and optimization.

With 280 park units, California’s State Park System is a world-class network of incomparable lands, waters, and features vitally important to the well-being of the state’s environment, economy, and people. State Parks manages these precious natural and cultural resources while providing hundreds of recreational and conservation programs and services for millions of Californians and visitors from all over the world.

The Path Forward Plan is available in English and is translatable to several other languages at

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CA State Parks Path Foward cover

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