Standing by the San Joaquin River on Friday, Assembly Member Joaquin Arambula announced a $ 15 million investment in the agency that oversees the area’s parks.
The money is primarily intended for the operation and maintenance of conservation lands along the San Joaquin River Walk, and will go to the San Joaquin River Conservancy.
Wildwood Native Park supporters said the silver was a win for an area that lacks green space and has the potential to benefit young people of color on Friday.
“We also know that families and individuals benefit from these spaces to support their health and well-being, and the COVID-19 pandemic has amplified the importance of these uses,” said Arambula, D-Fresno. “I also see these funds as an investment in our young people and in their future. “
State Senator Ana Caballero, D-Salinas, has partnered with Arambula in this effort.
Fresno ranks 97th among the 100 most populous cities in the country for access to public green spaces, area, investments, amenities and equity, according to the Trust for public lands. The inhabitants of the colored districts have worse because they have “access to 8% less park space per person than the city median and 44% lower than those in white neighborhoods.
San Joaquin River
The reserve has over 2,600 acres of land, but only about 750 acres are officially open to the public. This is mainly due to the lack of funding to keep it going, officials said.
Conservancy chief executive John Shelton said the new money will go towards maintaining and cleaning the parks and allowing the conservation to open more hours of operation. The park gates now only open on Friday, Saturday and Sunday.
“The open spaces available for recreation are essential to the health and quality of life of the community. We need more, especially in our region, ”he said.
The conservation does not have specific numbers on the demographics that use the parks, Shelton said, but it is someday working towards that goal.
Madera and Fresno County Parks are located near communities made up largely of people of color, Shelton noted.
More than half of Fresno County is Latino, and the county also has an Asian population of 11% and a Black population of 6%, according to the latest U.S. Census figures. The Native American population is around 3%.
The demographics of Madera County are broadly similar with slightly more Latinos (59%) but fewer Asians (3%).
Conservation and the San Joaquin River Parkway and Conservation Trust have programs that encourage people to visit parks, especially when they are young, officials said. This includes a program for sixth graders in the Madera region and another youth program with Building Healthy Communities.
These programs aren’t specifically for children of color, Shelton noted, but connect with schools with large minority populations.
Another effort to increase access to diverse communities comes from author Arambula Assembly Bill 559, which would expand the San Joaquin River Conservation Council to include more diverse voices in river-related decisions.
BHC CEO Sandra Celedon said the push for park funding and efforts like Measure C in Fresno are tied to the efforts of teens, who mostly came from neighborhoods of color.
“It was really a group of 13 and 14 year olds who asked us and asked us to defend and advance this call for more and better green spaces in the central valley,” he said. she declared.