Waterway Connections Initiative (WCI) 

State Parks' WCI will include a collection of efforts conducted over a multi-year implementation period, selected and implemented to achieve the WCI Goal and Objectives.  The WCI was established through enabling legislation (see WCI Basicsin 2021.

WCI Goal  

The Goal of WCI is to expand inland waterway-related outdoor access to Priority Communities, with an emphasis on State Parks facilities and partnerships. 

WCI Objectives

Objectives that achieve the Goal of WCI include actions or partnerships that:

  • Add, improve, or expand outdoor recreational facilities, such as campgrounds, day use areas, trails.
  • Increase and improve education and access support, such as culturally relevant guides that make Priority Communities feel welcome, and options for transportation to recreation sites.
  • Provide basic planning services required to deliver and manage public outdoor access.
  • Consider strategic property additions that increase or improve recreation access and management efficiency. 

Eligible locations

WCI proposes to focus on inland waterway-based outdoor access, which is typically eligible for less funding than coastal areas.  For the purpose of WCI, “adjacent to rivers and waterways” shall be interpreted as “not distant”, or “nearby” (Merriam-Webster definition).  Allocations may be made at locations that Priority Communities could enjoy in a reasonable one-day trip (including travel), including locations that serve as gateways connecting Priority Communities to a broader network of waterway-related recreation.

Access for All

Improved and expanded outdoor access is a priority for Californians. For more information, see:

Priority Communities

As described in its enabling legislation, WCI seeks to improve outdoor access to communities that:

  • Include 2,500 or more people (US Census definition of "urban area", which includes "urban clusters"),
  • Are near rivers, inland waterways, and inland water systems (see Eligible Locations definition), and
  • Are under-resourced, underserved, or park-poor (see below).

Under-resourced communities 

These communities lack meaningful connection to nature for a variety of reasons -- which may simply be not knowing with whom or where to go, or what equipment is needed and how to use it.  These communities include many low-income and communities of color, which are significantly more likely to be "nature deprived". 

Underserved communities 

These communities have barriers to outdoor access, including but not limited to: lack of culturally inclusive and relevant park programming; real or perceived threats to personal safety; lack of affordable transportation or equipment; inadequate staffing or hours that limit the usability of the park; or other barriers related to special needs.  

Park-poor urban communities 

This definition is focused on local or regional park amenities (rather than State Park-level resources), and includes neighborhoods that have:

  • Less than 3 acres of usable parkland per 1,000 residents, OR
  • Median household incomes less than 80% of the Statewide average AND inadequate access to recreation facilities and activities.

(For more information on park-poor urban communities, see State Parks' Park Access Tool.)