In early 2017, Transformation Team for California, Department of Parks and Recreation (DPR), formed a commitee to revise the DPR planning process and structure. Assembly Bill 2549, required DPR, in consultation with the State Park and Recreation Commission, to provide the Legislature, by January 1, 2018, recommendations for improving the DPR planning and approval process. The Committee established a revised multi-tiered planning and development structure for State Parks that adds a new, streamlined vision-setting tool to the existing portfolio of planning components: the Cornerstone Document. The Cornerstone Document (CD) is similar to “Foundation Documents” used by the National Park Service (NPS). Every unit of the NPS now has a Foundation Document and they proven valuable in laying out the broad scope of a park’s purpose and management vision. 

A Cornerstone Document summarizes what is known about a park and develops or expands on the park’s purpose. It describes the core mission, values, and significance of a park including its important natural and cultural resources. It assesses planning and data needs and establishes interpretative themes. A Cornerstone Document has many functions: 

  • It communicates what is most important about a park and why it was established.
  • It focuses departmental efforts to protect the park’s most important resources.
  • It ensures consistency in park planning and decision-making.
  • It serves as the basis for the development of management plans, such as interpretative, cultural or natural resource, road and trail, and facility plans.
  • It identifies threats and opportunities facing a park.
  • It identifies and prioritizes future studies and surveys needed for a park.

The Recreation Planning Unit started the pilot projects for the new CD documents in January 2020 and will be providing futher information during the process.