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Consistent with California Natural Resources Agency's Outdoors for All Initiative, State Parks launched the Waterway Connections Initiative ("WCI") to increase and expand inland water-related outdoor access to Priority Communities. Through June of 2027, WCI will advance its Objectives by strategically targeting funds to address needs that are not met by other funding sources. 

For the purpose of WCI, Priority Communities are communities of 2,500 (or more) near rivers, inland waterways, and inland water systems, and who lack meaningful connection to nature for a variety of reasons.  For more detail, see Terms


WCI BasicsTerms, and Guiding Principles establish a framework for maximizing effectiveness of this one-time funding.  A review of existing needs and funding gaps for State Parks facilities and partnerships informed development of an Implementation outline, efficiently leveraging existing State Parks plans, processes, and programs to strategically advance WCI Objectives.  State Parks held a public comment period for WCI in fall of 2023. Feedback was incorporated into the WCI framework and allocations have been finalized, with consideration given to evolving budgetary constraints. 

As of early 2024, WCI has funded a variety of projects that advance its objectives, such as:

  • recreation facility improvement projects that improve and expand public access, including at Brannan Island State Recreation Area, the new Dos Rios State Park property, and numerous others
  • Division of Boating and Waterways local assistance for boat launch facility improvements
  • community engagement and general planning needed to develop recreation facilities at State Park units
  • grant programs administered by Parks California, including:
    • Route to Parks grants that support underrepresented communities who face challenges getting to or enjoying parks
    • Career Pathways grants that create professional skill development opportunities for the next generation of public land managers

In addition, WCI is working with partners to develop opportunities to expand and improve public recreation access in the Tulare Lake Basin watershed, including parts of Kings, Tulare, Fresno, and Kern Counties. For more examples of funded projects, see Implementation