More than 1,184 public libraries now hold park passes, which are available at checkout for any library card holder. Passes provide free park admission for a passenger vehicle for up to nine people, or a highway-licensed motorcycle, at any of the 200 participating state parks.
“State parks are public spaces maintained and preserved for the public good,” said Molly Wetta, manager of library services at the Santa Barbara Public Library. “Spending time in nature or outdoors can improve health and well-being.”
Santa Barbara County Public Libraries (Golette, LompocSanta Barbara and Sainte Marie branches) currently hold passes that give access to state park entry pointsincluding the Chumash Painted Cave State Historic Park, Gaviota State Park and state beaches along the county’s coastline.
Santa Barbara Public Library locations (Central Library, Eastside Library, Montecito Library, and the Library on the Go outreach van) will have a total of 12 passes.
Park passes will join popular Santa Barbara Public Library passes for MOXI, The Wolf Museum of Exploration + Innovation and the Santa Barbara Botanical Garden. Wetta predicts that the new state park vehicle passes will be just as attractive to library users.
“Many members of our local community are very interested in nature and the outdoors – one of our most popular ongoing programs is our monthly Trail Talks, which feature local speakers on hiking-related topics. , outdoor recreation and naturalistic subjects, so I think those will be in demand,” she said.
Library card holders can verify park passes using the same process as verifying a book or other physical item. There is currently a long waiting list with up to 40 names, but when cardholders get to the front they will receive a text or email that their pass is ready to be collected. Each pass can be kept for seven days before being returned.
The park pass program is funded by the State Budget 2021-2022which included a one-time investment of $9.1 million from the General Fund to launch a State Parks Pilot Project to expand the distribution of park passes, particularly for youth in disadvantaged communities.
Officials say removing the economic barrier of daily vehicle use fees will help California achieve its goals of health, natural resource management, and historical and cultural ties with equity in mind.
— Carolyn French is a contributing writer for Noozhawk. Contact her at [email protected].