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Style & Usage: California State Parks

Naming Convention

California State Parks is the correct name for our organization.

Alternative names should no longer be used except the legal name, California Department of Parks and Recreation, when entering legal documents, or when it is otherwise absolutely necessary.

California State Parks is a singular name and is grammatically correct with singular verbs.

Term Style & Usage

The dilemma with the term CALIFORNIA STATE PARKS is the same as the dilemma with the term STATE -- it refers to both a geographic entity and a political one.

When "California State Parks" (or just "State Parks") refers to a branch of government (the Department of Parks & Recreation), it should be capitalized and used as a singular proper noun.

When it refers to a collection of park units (as in "many California state parks offer campfire programs"), it should be left un-capitalized and considered plural.

In most cases it stands nicely on its own without the word "the".

Significance of the year 1864

The year 1864 marks the start of the nation's first state park, with the granting of 20,000 acres of Yosemite Valley to California. Congress passed, and President Lincoln signed, the bill on June 30, 1864. This grant of land was based on the condition that it would be used for public use, resort and recreation. This action contributed to the start of the American park movement that would gain support by the American people at the turn of the century. Big Basin Redwoods became California's first state park in the present day system in 1902. After years of political fighting between conservation groups and politicians, Yosemite was returned to federal control on June 11, 1906.