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Parks Department's "Transformation" Under Way

Calif. Dept. of Parks and Recreation

Emerald Bay State Park near Lake Tahoe.

Calif. Dept. of Parks and Recreation

A task force charged by Gov. Jerry Brown with modernizing California’s state parks system after a recent financial scandal is now six months into its mission.

You won’t see “Under New Management” signs at California’s 279 state parks. But behind the scenes, there’s a lot going on.

Nearly all of the roughly 100 parks with entry fees now accept debit and credit cards, not just cash.

The state’s online reservation system is about to be overhauled.

And the department is working to encourage more revenue-generating events – like weddings, or a soccer tournament on a beach.

“Take advantage of those beautiful properties that we have, and plan those in a way that doesn’t hurt the parks but actually brings more people coming to the parks,” says Steve Szalay, who heads the Parks Department’s Transformation Team tasked with overhauling the agency.

The department is also working to fix its financial management system and dismantle barriers to partnerships with outside businesses and organizations.

Ben Adler

Capitol Bureau Chief

Capitol Bureau Chief Ben Adler first became a public radio listener in the car on his way to preschool – though not necessarily by choice. Now, he leads Capital Public Radio’s state Capitol coverage, which airs on NPR stations across California.  Read Full Bio