Assembly Bill 1150 Clears Major Milestone!
Parks Omnibus Bill Passes State Senate and Assembly – Heads to Governor’s Desk for Final Consideration
Feature Image Courtesy of Outdoor Outreach
On June 26, the Senate Natural Resource & Water Committee combined the spirit of AB 1150, AB 720, and AB 411, into a single omnibus bill, now referred to AB 1150 Parks and Recreation: Omnibus.
As of the time of posting, the bill now maintains three important sections that pertain to outdoor recreation:
- Section 2: Community Access Agreements (previously AB 1150)
- Section 3: Golden Bear Pass (previously AB 720)
- Section 4: The Recreational Trails Fund
Community Access Agreements
In its original iteration, CAMTB considered AB 1150 a top priority for the 2023 legislative session because of its focus on helping community-based nonprofit organizations, like CAMTB’s member organizations, better serve their communities while helping them be more effective partners to CA State Parks.
Community-based nonprofit organizations serve as trusted bridges for people who have been systematically excluded from nature to experience the outdoors and develop meaningful connections with nature. In addition to providing free or significantly subsidized programming to participants with low incomes, these organizations are equipped with staff trained to provide culturally responsive programming that addresses the needs of participants who face barriers to accessing parks. These programs not only provide connections and meaningful engagement but promote environmental responsibility and stewardship for future generations of park users.
The existing permitting process for nonprofits at state parks and beaches requires applying for
a Special Event Permit for each activity or event, which is an unnecessary barrier, especially for ongoing programs that need to be scheduled throughout the year. The existing special event permitting and fee system was created to regulate one-time large-scale special events. CA State Parks current approach imposes unnecessary administrative costs on CA State Parks staff and its community partners. This limits amount of people that partners and CA State Parks can serve, and as a result the positive impact of these programs.
AB 1150 provides a more equitable framework to increase access and support organizations
that serve as trusted connectors to the outdoors for communities that have historically not had
access to these spaces. It would provide qualified organizations, contingent on the availability
of department resources, with free or reduced-cost access to state parks and beaches through
community access agreements.
Golden Bear Pass
Addressed initially in AB 720, Section 2 of AB 1150, as amended, expands the Golden Bear Pass Program to ensure that those in financial need have access to the outdoors and in particular the CA State Parks’ 200+ day-use facilities. If passed, those receiving assistance from the federally funded Temporary Assistance for Needy Families (TANF) program would also be eligible for the Golden Bear Pass.
The Recreational Trails Fund
Upon approval of AB 1150 by the Governor, federally and non-federally recognized California Native American tribes will now be eligible for grants from the Recreational Trails Fund (RTF). RTF offers competitive grants on an annual basis for natural surface trails.
AB 1150 keeps the spirit of AB 411 alive via amendments to The Recreational Trails Fund – a competitive grant program for nonmotorized recreational trails.
70% of the money received by the state from the federal government and transferred to the Recreational Trails Fund pursuant to this subdivision shall be available only for nonmotorized recreational trails. Additionally, at least 50% of that amount can be awarded to acquire and develop new nonmotorized recreational trails and the reconstruction or relocation of existing nonmotorized recreational trails.
As of Sep 15, 2023, AB 1150 has cleared both the State Assembly and Senate and has moved on to the Governor’s office for final review.