2021 Outcomes: Equitable Access Policy, 30×30, & Beyond

Recap: Summit Sacramento
August 30, 2019

2020 was a tough year for policy in California. Once California State Legislature leadership determined that bills passed must have a COVID-19 focus in the 2019-20 legislative year, important policy bills like AB 3030 died. Coming into this year, our industry had higher hopes for the political landscape in California and what it meant for outdoor recreation policy in our state. With Governor Newsom’s Executive Order on 30×30 last October, our ears quickly turned to Assemblymember Kalra’s Office to see what type of legislation he would introduce in response to California taking up 30×30. Let’s start with that bill, which was AB 30!

AB 30 – The Human Right to Nature Act

In December, Assemblymember Kalra introduced a spot bill to hold the number AB 30. In January, we met with Assemblymember Kalra’s Office to discuss his goals for the bill and the direction that he wanted to take the language. For California Outdoor Recreation Partnership, our priority was to include language revolving around access to nature and goals for establishing equitable access to the outdoors that were comparable to the biodiversity goals and language in Governor Newsom’s Executive Order on 30×30. In February, Assemblymember Kalra submitted revised language to AB 30 with verbiage suggested from the Audubon Society that established AB 30 as the “Human Right to Nature Act.” Our Board of Directors unanimously voted in support of endorsing AB 30. Supporting The Human Right to Nature Act would establish that the State of California recognizes that access to nature and the benefits of nature are human rights for all. This bill was sponsored by Azul and the Audubon Society.

The key points of AB 30:

  • Coming off of the Governor’s 30×30 Initiative, as outdoor recreation enthusiasts and professionals, we want to make sure that equitable access is as high of a priority as conservation.
  • Supporting equitable access has many benefits, which include mental and physical health, and overall well-being of people. Prioritizing the health of your constituents is at all-time high coming out of the pandemic.
  • This bill will allow departments under CNRA to use expenditures to allow and improve access to nature for all. It directs state agencies to prioritize investments and access to nature to communities in need, including communities of color, Indigenous Peoples, and economically disadvantaged communities.

The outcome of AB 30 this session was that the bill died in the Assembly Appropriations Committee on May 20, 2021. The bill was held under suspense file after passing out of the Assembly Committee on Water, Parks, & Wildlife. The bill never made it to the Senate.

 

SB 624 – Environmental Equity and Outdoor Access Act

In January, Jaymee Go of Innovative Policy Solutions gave us a heads up about a potential bill sponsored by the Parks Now Coalition involving workforce development for California State Parks and the larger California Natural Resources Agency as a whole. When Senator Ben Hueso introduced SB 624 in February, our Board of Directors strongly felt that this bill aligned very closely with the mission behind California Outdoor Recreation Partnership and unanimously agreed to support it. The Environmental Equity and Outdoor Access Act would add a new division to the Public Resources Code that explicitly establishes promoting environmental equity and outdoor access as a goal for the California Natural Resources Agency and all departments within. This bill also connected us with Senator Hueso’s staffer, Kenia Miranda-Verdugo, who participated as a youth in our member Outdoor Outreach‘s surf camp. Her experience with Outdoor Outreach is a large reason why she works on outdoor recreation policy advocacy now, which moved many of us to tears in the meeting when we met with her.

They key points of SB 624:

  • Currently, there are a lack of job training and career pathway opportunities for employment at the Natural Resources Agency, and each department, board, conservancy, and commission within the agency, that allow for upward mobility within the agency. We believe in equitable hiring processes, workforce development, and visitation for user groups at all levels under our government.
  • Supporting this bill will uphold California to ensure all Californians can benefit from, and have meaningful access to, the state’s rich cultural and natural resources.

The outcome of SB 624 was that this bill was made into a 2 year bill by the Assembly Appropriations Committee on August 26, 2021 after passing out of the Senate in June. Senator Hueso’s Office will be working with the Committee in the coming weeks and the bill will be going up next session.

 

SB 45 – Wildfire Prevention, Safe Drinking Water, Drought Preparation, and Flood Protection Bond Act of 2022 & AB 1500 – Safe Drinking Water, Wildfire Prevention, Drought Preparation, Flood Protection, Extreme Heat Mitigation, and Workforce Development Bond Act of 2022

The largest pieces of legislation that we supported were the Climate Resiliency Bond companion bills. The bills were very similar language, except for differences in some funding allocations. We endorsed these companion bills in 2020 and the Board of Directors unanimously voted in support of these two bills in 2021.

The Top 3 Reasons We Supported:

  • We strongly support that SB 45/AB1500 will finance a future drought, water, parks, wildfire prevention, and coastal protection.
  • We are also very enthusiastic that the bill will fund outdoor recreation projects, including and projects that give access to nature for urban and disadvantaged communities.
  • As part of the COVID-19 relief effort, it is important to put Californians back to work. We are in strong support of SB 45 as it will reduce the statewide unemployment rate by funding employment opportunities for the California Conservation Corps and other wildfire prevention and conservation efforts.

The outcome of SB 45 was that the bill was ordered to inactive file on request of Senator Portantino on June 1, 2021. The outcome of AB 1500 was that it passed out of Assembly Appropriations on suspense file, but was re-referred to Assembly Rules and died. In an effort to be transparent, it is our understanding that both of these bills died due to the budget surplus as many felt there was no need for a bond measure when climate resiliency had a large budget allocation for the 2021-22 budget year. You can read about the budget here.

 

AB 377 – The California Clean Water Act

In February, California Coastkeeper Alliance came to us through our member REI and asked us to support AB 377, the California Clean Water Act, which Assemblymember Robert Rivas introduced. The bill set a state target to make all waterways swimmable, fishable, and drinkable by 2050. The original Clean Water Act set a goal to accomplish this by 1985, yet today 95% of our waterways are too polluted, or impaired. This is a major initiative for the Blue Business Council in 2021-22, as most Members rely on clean water for their bottom line. If you are interested in hearing more about the bill, Assemblymember Rivas and California Coastkeeper Alliance hosted a Press Conference back in February, which is located here. Our Board of Directors primarily endorsed this bill for the strong language around outdoor recreation, which stated, “The program established by this act will continue this tradition of environmental leadership by placing California at the forefront of achieving the nation’s goal of making all waterways swimmable, fishable, and drinkable.” However, this language was struck in the amendment process.

The outcome of AB 377 was that the bill died on suspense file in Assembly Appropriations on May 20, 2021. At this point, we were ready to recommend that the language be re-written back into the bill if it went to a floor vote, but it didn’t make it to the floor.

 

Call to Action

While no key pieces of legislation we supported passed this session, there are still ways to get involved in outdoor recreation advocacy right now with the implementation of 30×30 in California.

September 3: Upcoming Deadline for Public Input

The Pathways to 30×30 document is currently under development by the California Natural Resources Agency and will be released for public review and feedback this fall. They are asking that public input into the draft document be submitted no later than September 3, 2021.

In addition to the Contact Us form on their website, there are three ways you can send your comments, questions, or ideas:

  • Email: CaliforniaNature@Resources.ca.gov
  • Letter via postal mail:
  • California Natural Resources Agency
  • 715 P Street, 20th Floor
  • Sacramento, CA 95814
  • Voice message: 1 (800) 417-0668

Catch Up on Recent Engagement Activities

If you missed one of their recent topical workshops, visit the Get Involved page on the website. Recordings and detailed meeting summaries of our nine regional workshops are now available, and the recordings and summaries of the five topical workshops are forthcoming. You can also view recordings of all workshops on CNRA’s YouTube page.

Have a question about the State’s engagement process or next steps? Visit the newly added Frequently Asked Questions (FAQ) section with more information about the process and timeline for Pathways to 30×30, Natural and Working Lands Climate Smart Strategy, and the CA Nature Geographic Information System.

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