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Time to get outdoors—it’s California State Parks Week.

Point Sur and Pico Blanco from Andrew Molera State Park

Point Sur and Pico Blanco all in one frame from Andrew Molera State Park.

Tajha Chappellet-Lanier here, fresh off a run in Andrew Molera State Park, one of California’s 279 state parks (and certainly among my personal favorites).

It’s a good week to celebrate favorite parks because Tuesday, June 14 marked the beginning of the inaugural California State Parks Week. “Our state’s natural wonders are a source of pride and inspiration for Californians and visitors from around the world,” Governor Gavin Newsom’s proclamation establishing the annual celebration reads. “The first-ever California State Parks Week celebrates the unparalleled opportunities right in our backyard to experience some of the world’s most iconic outdoor places, and highlights the importance of access to parks, the coast, and public lands to the health and vibrancy of all our communities.”

At a high level, State Parks Week is part of California’s Outdoor Access for All initiative, which aims to increase access to the state’s outdoor natural resources in various ways. Among those ways, as a reminder, is the relatively new opportunity to check out a free day-use park pass at the library

The festivities run through Saturday. Each day of the week has a chosen theme—from Land Acknowledgement Day to Kids Career Day—with corresponding events happening in many parks across the state. In the Monterey District alone that means about 15 events. Some of these have already passed, but Stewardship Day (Friday, June 17) and Partnership Day / Volunteer Day (Saturday, June 18) are still ahead.

On Friday, join a drop-in Q&A session at Weston Beach in Point Lobos State Nature Reserve, during which a State Parks interpreter will answer any and all questions about federal “marine protected areas.” (Note that the $10/car entry fee for the park still applies.)

Or, on Saturday, take an hour-long tour of the Asilomar Conference Grounds, learning about its history as a Young Woman’s Christian Association summer camp, architect Julia Morgan, and much more. There are also opportunities to volunteer to help plant native species and remove invasive ones both at Asilomar State Beach and the Fort Ord Dunes State Park. Find details in this comprehensive list of events.

I feel incredibly lucky to have lived my life with broad access to the outdoors—this week or any week. I’ve also found myself thinking a lot about how a certain kind of gatekeeping can arise in the name of “protecting” our natural treasures, and how we might be able to balance these two (in my mind) equally vital ideas: access and stewardship. If you have inspiration, perhaps that springs to mind while you’re out enjoying a park this weekend, you know where to find me.

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