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New California Grants Aim To Help Underrepresented Groups Access State Parks

A view from a peak on the Backbone trail. There is a rugged piece of rock on the left, and behind that, the horizon is filled with peaks receding into the distance. The sun is half hidden by rocks, putting much of the landscape in shadow.
The Backbone Trail in the Santa Monica Mountains.
((Photo by Phil Calvert via the LAist Featured Photos pool on Flickr))
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Low-income people of color tend to be underrepresented among visitors in California’s state parks. Partly because they may lack transportation to the parks — but also because of a sense they are not welcome.

Now, a grant program in its second year is taking aim at both issues of transportation as well as representation.

Sometimes it's people not seeing themselves in parks, whether it is the staffing that reflects who they are as a community or as park users,” said Myrian Solis Coronel, community engagement director for the nonprofit Parks California.

The Parks California group is co-funding $311,000 in grants to 20 nonprofits, mostly for transportation.

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The nonprofit organizations have created outdoor programs designed to help build a connection to nature and help people feel welcome in state parks, but getting participants there is the big challenge.

Three of the grant recipients are in the greater L.A. area:

Nature for All is an L.A. County nonprofit that will bus about 200 people from neighborhoods on a series of field trips to visit state and county parks and beaches. Once they arrive, bilingual staffers will show them how to use transit and local bike paths to independently get to the parks and build that sense of belonging and ownership.

Pukúu Cultural Community Services is a nonprofit focused on Native American families along with young people from San Fernando. It will offer a dozen trips to state parks with workshops and demonstrations focused on traditional ecological knowledge, storytelling, outdoor and cultural activities.

Community Nature Connection will use its grant to work with the Fernandeño Tataviam Band of Mission Indians Education and Cultural Learning Department. It will offer four trips to state parks for tribal youth and families and focus on ecology, land acknowledgements, storytelling and traditional names and uses of plants.