Californians can use library cards to get a Parks Pass that will provide free day-use to more than 200 state parks in a three-year pilot program this April.
The California State Park system will distribute the California State Library Parks Pass to public libraries across the state to be used for checkout by patrons. Furthermore, each library will be given a minimum of three California State Library Parks Pass hangtags per branch, including mobile libraries.
The plan is rolling out to make it easier for Californians to visit state parks. In a statement, the California Department of Parks and Recreation said the state possesses many state parks and public libraries within driving distance from each other.
“By reducing barriers to park access and partnering with entities such as public libraries, the state can help more Californians explore the outdoors and generate positive impacts in the area of health, natural resource stewardship, and historical and cultural connections,” said a California Department of Parks and Recreation representative.
There are 1,184 public libraries in California. Three complimentary passes per library mean over 3,500 cars with the capacity of nine people each or one on a motorcycle as per the terms of the Park Pass can visit a state park free with the new program.
Over 23 million Californians owned active library cards in 2019 and 2020. Libraries dispensed more than the 97 million items for free, such as books, technology, Wi-Fi hotspots, videos, music, instruments, tools, telescopes, etc.
“The California State Library Parks Pass program is one more way that Californians can get empowered through their libraries. Additionally, the California State Library will be providing grant funding to libraries for outdoor-related items for checkout, programs that teach natural resource stewardship and outdoor skills, or to encourage their library patrons to enjoy the outdoors and make historical and cultural connections to parks,” said the Department.
The free Parks Pass program was made possible by an initiative in the state budget for 2021-22, granting the Parks system a $9.1 million one-time General Fund investment. It was specifically designed to enable the Parks system to increase the number of passes, focusing on youth and disadvantaged communities.
These passes will be distributed on a rolling basis during April and May for library patrons. Those interested are advised to contact their local library for more specific details about availability.