We did it! We asked you to use your voice and tell Governor Newsom to support legislation that will positively impact the outdoor community and he listened. On Friday, October 13, Governor Newsom signed AB 267 and AB 1150. At the end of the Legislative session, the Governor had approximately 1,100 bills on his desk and we ended up having two bills in the final 100. While it was a test to our patience, we are grateful the outcome was positive and the Governor is in support.
So, what positive changes are going to happen as a result? For nearly 50 years, California has had a code under CAL FIRE for flammability requirements that lead to tent manufacturers having to add flame retardants on their tent fabric. A large volume of these flame retardants contain known carcinogens with many on the California Proposition 65 List from 1986. This was due to outdated code under California Code of Regulations, Title 19 from 1975 that makes California among only six states to maintain this outdated requirement.
We approached the Chair of the Assembly Water, Parks, and Wildlife Committee Rebecca Bauer-Kahan (D-San Ramon) about the issue and she enthusiastically introduced AB 267: The No Toxics Tent Act. With the approval of the Governor, the law goes into effect on January 1, 2024 and tent manufacturers will not need to add harmful chemicals to children’s play, camping, and backpacking tents with an occupancy of 14 or less that are constructed with fabric made from synthetic fibers.
“The Governor’s signature on The No Toxics Tent Act is a positive step forward for a safer and healthier environment for outdoor professionals, enthusiasts, and campers. As Chair of the Assembly Committee on Water, Parks, and Wildlife, it is important to me to strive towards a cleaner and more sustainable California,” stated Assemblymember Rebecca Bauer-Kahan, author of AB 267.
Arlene Blum, Mountaineer and Executive Director of the Green Science Policy Institute, has been working on the issue since 1976 and we have evidence of it from 1976 Summit Magazine Arlene Blum. “It’s a big relief that campers, climbers, and children will soon be able to sleep and play in healthier tents without flame retardant chemicals,” said Arlene Blum. “This legislation ensures tents will be both be safe from fires and safe for the health of humans, wildlife and the wilderness we love.”
“The entire Marmot and Coleman teams are incredibly grateful to Governor Newson for signing AB 267 and supporting the removal of hazardous flame retardant chemicals from tents,” mentioned Kim Suarez, Raw Materials Specialist for Newell Brands Technical Apparel. “We are equally grateful to the team at California Outdoor Recreation Partnership, Assemblymember Rebecca Bauer-Kahan, the Green Science Policy Institute, REI and all other tent manufacturers who supported this bill. The outdoor industry truly came together in collaboration to ensure a more healthy and sustainable future for tent manufacturers and outdoor enthusiasts.”
“It is critical for the integrity of the regulatory process that outdated laws be updated periodically to better reflect the current science and data. In this case, the data and science have clearly shown that – over nearly 50 years – the very low risk of injury from tent fires from vintage materials was far outweighed by the unnecessary exposure of families and children to toxic flame retardants while camping in nature with new modern materials,” explained Neal Cohen, a consumer product safety expert who is serving as counsel for the Outdoor Industry Association’s Sustainability Working Group on tent flammability. “Governor Newsom, State Representative Bauer-Kahan, and the California legislature should be applauded for undertaking this important modernization effort. Exposure to chronic risk factors like toxic flame retardants must be reasonably balanced against other lower risk factors.”
The other critical bill that we rallied behind on the Governor’s desk was AB 1150 – Parks & Recreation Omnibus. While the signed bill contained code clean-up added by the Department of State Parks, the original bill concept was centered around a Community Access Agreements program and a follow-up to last year’s bill AB 2975 sponsored by Outdoor Outreach. This session, Outdoor Outreach came back and reintroduced the bill in partnership with the California State Parks Foundation as a co-sponsor. Instead of having a sole author, the bill was also a Committee bill out of the Assembly Committee on Water, Parks, & Wildlife, meaning it was signed off by every member of the Committee.
So, what does this bill do? Currently, non-profit organizations and tribal nations have to apply for a permit every time they want to hold a program or event on a State Park or State Beach. The fees and time for this add up to a lot! AB 1150 streamlines this process and will allow for the Department of State Parks to entre into community access agreements with non-profit organizations and tribal nations.
“By allowing California State Parks to enter into community access agreements with non-profit organizations and tribal nations, we will save a lot of time and finances for the Department of State Parks and also for the organizations that are working hard to make a difference when it comes to equitable access and stretch their budgets in order to do so. This is another example of state policy allowing major change to provide opportunities to make public access to California’s outdoors more accessible and equitable,” said Assemblymember Rebecca Bauer-Kahan, Chair of the Assembly Committee on Water, Parks, and Wildlife.
“Thanks Governor Newsom for signing Outdoor Outreach-sponsored AB1150! This legislation creates a new partnership model for State Parks focused on community needs and outdoor access for all,” stated Ben McCue, Executive Director of Outdoor Outreach. “Nonprofits, community groups and tribes across the state will now be able to partner with State Parks in more impactful ways to promote equitable access and high-quality outdoor recreation and education. We are grateful to AB1150 co-sponsor California State Parks Foundation, our friends at CORP and Parks Now, and everyone else who helped to shape and support this legislation!”
“Nonprofits provide essential services to California’s state parks and state park visitors, so it has been a barrier for everyone – park leaders and nonprofits alike – that California State Parks had no flexibility to waive permit fees and other requirements even for organizations providing access and services for Californians least able to enjoy state parks. That all changes with the signing of AB 1150 into law, and we are thrilled,” said Rachel Norton, Executive Director of California State Parks Foundation.
On that note, we have a lot to celebrate. “It has been a stressful couple of months after receiving some negative feedback from the Administration on AB 267 and the Department of Finance coming out in opposition of AB 1150. I would like to thank everyone who banded together with us to advocate in response from members of California Outdoor Recreation Partnership to non-members like California Professional Firefighters, NRDC, Breast Cancer Prevention Partners, Clean Water Action, IKEA, International Association of Fire Fighters, and more as well as express my gratitude to Governor Newsom for making a positive impact by approving these bills,” expressed Lexie Gritlefeld, Director of California Outdoor Recreation Partnership. “It’s time to celebrate and I’m looking for a baker for a tent cake!” To register for our upcoming Basecamp event, which will include celebrations and productive conversations on future policy, please visit our EventBrite here.