About the State Park and Recreation Commission

Structure of the Commission

The California State Park and Recreation Commission was created as the State Park Commission in 1927. In its current form, nine voting commissioners are appointed to staggered four-year terms. The governor appoints the voting members of the Commission; these appointments require Senate confirmation. State law requires that:

  • three members represent the public;
  • one member have demonstrated expertise in cultural or historic resources management;
  • one member possess a background as a parks professional;
  • one member represent nonprofit or other organizations with statewide policy experience with the State Park System or in operating state parks (via operating agreement or other arrangement);
  • one member represent a statewide conservation organization with expertise in the administration or programs of the department;
  • one member have a background in the recreational industry;
  • one member represent a local business community that has significant and beneficial relationships with state parks.

Commissioners may serve for 60 days after their term expiration date as permitted by law. 

Authorities and Responsibilities

The Commission has specific authorities and responsibilities which are defined in California law:

  • Approves general plans for units of the State Park System. The general plan for a unit serves as the guide for the future development, management, and operation of the unit. (Public Resources Code Section 5002.2)
  • Classifies units of the State Park System. (Public Resources Code Section 5019.50)
  • Establishes general policies for the guidance of the Director of the Department of Parks and Recreation in the administration, protection, and development of the state park system.  (Public Resources Code Section 539)
  • Formulates and recommends to the Director a comprehensive recreation policy for the State of California. (Public Resources Code Section 540b)
  • Reports annually to the Governor, through the Director, on existing and operating recreational facilities, programs and activities of the state park system and makes recommendations for programs and activities to meet future needs of the state for parks and recreation. (Public Resources Code Section 535) Determines whether hunting in certain State Recreation Areas would threaten the safety and welfare of recreation area users. (Public Resources Code Section 5003.1)
  • Determines whether proposed concessions for units are compatible with the unit's general plan. (Public Resources Code Section 5080.03c)
  • Reviews proposed concession contracts that are expected to involve a total investment or estimated annual gross sales in excess of $500,000 to determine whether such concessions are compatible with the classifications of the units in which they will be operated. (Public Resources Code Section 5080.20a)
  • Recommends and/or approves projects for funding from the 1964, 1974, 1976, 1980, 1984 and 1988 park bond acts. (Public Resources Code Sections 5096.18, 5096.88, 5096.129, 5096.162, 5096.172, and 5915)
  • It is the Commission’s intent to provide general guidance to the Director for the approval of the subject sales and to describe the circumstances under which the sales of alcoholic beverages may be permitted within the State Park System. (Commission Policy IV.7)
  • Concurs in appointments made by the Director to the Columbia City Hotel Corporation. (Contract with Hotel Corporation)
  • Concurs in appointments made by the Director to the California Citrus State Historic Park Non-Profit Management Corporation Board of Directors. (Operating agreement with the Non-Profit Management Corporation)
  • Approves resolutions accepting and naming memorial redwood groves and trails in units of the State Park System.
  • Approves resolutions and awards the Golden Bear Award, the highest award given by the Commission to persons or organizations for significant contributions to the State Park System.