Grants and Local Parks
Grants have played an important role in California State Parks since their very beginning 150 years ago. The Yosemite Land Grant was the seed that became California State Parks. Today, the Office of Grants and Local Services (OGALS) administers grant programs that fund local and state parks as well as nonprofit organization projects.
Since 1964, the duties of OGALS have fallen under different office names but the mission remains the same. OGALS provides parks and projects with monetary support to communities all over California. Since its inception, over 7,400 parks have been created or improved through 20,000 grants. Since 2000, OGALS, as it is known today, has administered over 8,000 grants.
OGALS got its start in with the passage of the Land and Water Conservation Fund (LWCF) Act by the Federal Government, and the passage of the State Beach, Park, and Recreational & Historic Facilities Bond Act of 1964. Both programs included funds for State Parks, and for the first time local agencies.
The LWCF has funded acquisition and development projects to meet the public need for parks. Most importantly, is the protection afforded to parks funded by LWCF grants, which requires that the entire park be protected for public outdoor recreation in perpetuity. Other bond acts were passed in the following decades, providing millions of dollars for local parks. The passage of bonds and propositions help fund OGALS who in turn administer these funds to projects needed throughout California.
For instance, in 2000 California’s voters passed Proposition 12. $845,500,000 was budgeted for grants to local governments. Programs included California Heritage Fund Grants, the Murray-Hayden Urban Park and Youth Service Grant, and the National Marine Sanctuaries Grant program. In the past decade, dozens of other grant programs were funded by Propositions 40 and 84.
What sort of projects do these grants fund? Local parks often build playgrounds or community centers, create interpretive displays, pave bike trails or make hiking trails, or create new teen recreation centers.
OGALS has also implemented compliance monitoring, a way to ensure features funded by grants are available to the public. Grant-funded areas must remain open for 10 or 20 years in the case of most grant programs, or in perpetuity. On average, project officers must inspect funded projects within 5 years.
The high demand for local grants is evidenced by the $2.6 billion in unfunded requests during the last grant cycle. OGALS is dedicated to obtaining and distributing grants to Californians. To learn more about OGALS and the grants they administer, please visit http://www.parks.ca.gov/?page_id=1008.