The California Department of Parks and Recreation will be forced to acquire and incorporate three parcels of land consisting of 1,500 acres if a bill approved by the California State Legislature on Sept. 3 is signed by Gov. Newsom.
State Senator Josh Newman, who represents Chino Hills in the 29th district, proposed the bill, SB 266, at the request of Hills For Everyone, the non-profit group that founded the State Park.
Sen. Newman said the bill will fulfill an outstanding settlement agreement that the Department of Parks and Recreation entered into in 2008 with Hills for Everyone.
“For more than a decade, the Department has failed to acquire and incorporate additional land into the State Park system, even the lands that were designated a priority by the State Park’s general plan,” Mr. Newman said in a news release.
Melanie Schlotterbeck, conservation consultant for Hills for Everyone, said the bill “requires State Parks to accept the lands we’ve been preserving (the 720 acres preserved so far). The grand total is 1,530 acres which would all go over to State Parks at once, not piecemeal.”
Ms. Schlotterbeck said it is important because this area has been a priority acquisition area for the State Parks Department for decades, but it has been unwilling to accept the land, “which is why the legislation was needed to force them to do it.”
She said State Parks had 10 years to accept land containing walnut woodlands as part of a settlement agreement with Hills for Everyone. If Gov. Newsom signs the bill, it will fulfill the court-mandated settlement agreement and bring the region one step closer to preserving vital natural lands, said Senator Newman.
“Numerous attempts to acquire the land through State Parks were hindered by Sacramento Department Parks and Recreation staff which wouldn’t let the transactions/grant applications proceed,” Ms. Schlotterbeck said.
The bill only applies to the three properties included in the legislation: the 10-acre Beattie property, the 400-acre Eastbridge property, and the 1,120-acre First National Investment Properties land, she said.
When asked about the bill, Jorge Moreno, public information officer for State Parks, stated, “California State Parks does not comment on pending legislation.”