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Forests of the California State Parks

Forests of the California State Parks
By J. Zimmerman, Ph.D.

A flower forest, a kelp forest, and the largest panoramic view in the Americas, Europe, or Asia - these are but a fraction of the California State Parks' unexpected delights. In addition, they offer the beloved staples of redwoods, oaks, and cypresses...

Buy Trees and Shrubs of California Trees and Shrubs of California (California Natural History Guides) by John David Stuart, et al.

What is a California State Park?

A California State Park (CSP) is land within the California State Park System. These lands are publicly owned by the State of California. They're operated and maintained by the California Department of Parks and Recreation.

To use a California State Park, you usually pay a small charge for day use, and an additional charge for overnight camping.

How Are The Parks Used?

To create the delicate balance of recreation opportunities with protection of scenic, scientific, natural or historical values, different areas are designated with different characteristics and types of use. These designations are the most likely to contain forests:

What are some of the largest Parks and their special features?

Is it true there's a Flower Forest?

Yes! Check out the unique flower forest. It's the Stagecoach Hills Azalea Preserve (in Northern CA, near Arcata). Thousands of wild azaleas in whites, creams, and pinks sparkle in the protected 30 acres.

This Preserve was specially dedicated by the independent California State Parks Foundation. Peak blooming and perfuming season is May-June.

Where are the California State Parks? And How Many?

The areas range from:

The growth in number of Parks is:

Total State Park acreage has grown:

The oldest existing state park in California, Big Basin Redwoods State Park (a banana slug haven) was established in 1902. This 18-thousand acre Park contains Old Growth and recovering Redwood Forest, as well as mixed conifer, oaks, chaparral, and riparian habitats. It rises from fog and damp at sea level to sunny, warm ridge tops over 2,000 feet above.

The Last Word.

California's Parks: Preserving Our Resources into the Next Century (was at in 2001) reports "the total acreage of the park system has not expanded to meet the growing demand." Data on useage and budget statistics show that in 1960, 22 million people visited our California State Parks. In 1997 108 million people visited them. Meanwhile funding has fallen dramatically (e.g., "funding for park acquisition has dropped 88% over a span of 14 years".)

Nonetheless, the report says, "The California State Park System is considered one of the most beautiful and diverse park systems in the world, comprised of arid deserts, massive redwoods, and coastal shoreline. California has enjoyed many benefits from a healthy park system, including an enriched economy, biological diversity, as well as social and recreational benefits."

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