With profound gratitude, I am excited to share that California State Parks has awarded Big Sur Land Trust nearly $8.5M! This critical Proposition 68 funding will support the final design and construction of the neighborhood park element at our Carr Lake project in Salinas, including a nature playground, basketball court, skate spot, natural amphitheater, three small group picnic areas, two large 50+ group picnic areas with BBQs, trails, pathways, two restrooms, two parking lots with lighting, and landscaping throughout the park. This is just the beginning of what will become a 73-acre green space in the heart of the city that helps address the community’s need for parklands, while providing multiple environmental benefits including ecological restoration and water quality improvements using nature-based solutions.
This grant is part of California State Parks’ announcement of $548.3 million in funding to deliver new parks, advancing the Newsom Administration’s “California Outdoors for All” initiative to enable all Californians, regardless of zip code or income, to access parks and open space. These grants represent the single-largest investment in state history in expanding access to parks in underserved communities, with new or enhanced parks funded in every region of California. The Outdoors for All initiative further advances two other priorities – Nature-Based Solutions and 30×30 – by investing in California’s public lands and natural resources.
It is so encouraging to see the State make major investments in projects throughout the Salinas Valley, including the City of Salinas’ Closter Park project (the City also previously received state funding to rebuild the Hebbron Family Center). We strongly believe that investing in creating parks and open space is an essential step toward realizing a shared vision of healthy lands, healthy people, and healthy communities. And, as we move forward with these critical community spaces, we must also make it a priority to invest in their ongoing maintenance so that everyone has access to the proven health benefits that only time spent in nature can offer.
I want to take this opportunity to thank all the community members who have participated in planning meetings, property tours, city council meetings, and volunteer planting days at the site’s native garden. You inspire our efforts in so many ways! Of course, we could not have succeeded in our community engagement efforts without our valued partners, Center for Community Advocacy, CSUMB’s Return of the Natives, and the City of Salinas – along with Action Council of Monterey County, Alisal Community Arts Network, Alisal Center for the Fine Arts, BAKTUN 12, Building Healthy Communities, Community Housing Improvement Systems and Planning Association (CHISPA), The Epicenter, Local Urban Gardeners, Motivating Individual Leadership for Public Advancement (MILPA), Monterey County Health Department and Urban Arts Collaborative.
We are so grateful to all the funders and donors for supporting the project and making the dream of a park at Carr Lake seem possible. Thank you to the Monterey Peninsula Foundation – host of the AT&T Pebble Beach Pro-Am – for pledging another $1.5 million in response to the California State Parks’ grant. We also want to thank all our individual and corporate donors who gave to the Campaign for the Lands You Love, and all those supporters who have given through Community Foundation of Monterey County Donor Advised Funds, MCGives!, and our general fund. Every gift matters!
There’s also news to celebrate on the rest of the park. Thank you to the California Wildlife Conservation Board for recently donating a $776,000 grant to support the final design for the restoration/open space project on the remaining 76 acres at the site!
While we celebrate these amazing milestones, we recognize that there is still much work ahead, and look forward to sharing our progress. I speak for the entire team at Big Sur Land Trust when I say that we are humbled and so very thankful for all the support for this inspiring and transformational project!
Wishing you a happy and healthy holiday season,
President/CEO, Big Sur Land Trust
p.s. The MCGives! campaign is still open through Friday, December 31. If the vision for healthy lands, healthy people, and healthy communities resonates with you, please consider giving today. A portion of your donation will be matched!