California to get its first new state park in almost a decade

California will get its newest state park in almost a decade.

The 2,500-acre property at Dos Rios Ranch — a property in Stanislaus County, 10 miles southwest of Modesto — will be accessible to the public within a year, said State Parks Director Armando Quintero.

The property will be transferred to the state parks over the course of a year, Quintero said.

“Sometime in 2023, there is will be early access to the public,” he said.

Visitor facilities will be planned and installed over the next five years.

“We have to do an archaeological survey and ensure we’re not disturbing any Native American sites or anything like that,” said Quintero. “There is going to be a fair amount of planning that goes in before we bring in sustainable infrastructure there.”

Gov. Gavin Newsom has earmarked $5 million for the park as part of his state budget proposal, said Quintero.

“We are really excited to be evaluating this preserve as the next state park,” Quintero said. “We strongly believe that everyone deserves to have close-to-home access to vibrant parks.”

What’s special about this park, said Quintero, is that it sits at the confluence of two rivers — San Joaquin and Tuolumne.

“There is access to both rivers so you can fish, as well as get in the water,” he said. “In a way, it is a walk back in time to a gentle valley. It is one of those places where people will visit and say, ‘Oh, my goodness, this is where I live.’ That’s my hope.”

Quintero also makes note of the 1,500 acres of floodplains, along with the scenic landscape.

“This park will be a place where visitors can come in spring and summer,” he said. “During times of heavy rainfall, this park can actually be a place where water can be directed to the groundwater recharge area and can contribute to improving our groundwater health.”

A new state park is welcome news after decreasing land acquisition for years. After averaging more than 140,000 acres in the previous five decades, according to the state’s parks and recreation department, California’s land acquisition for state parks was only 37,929 acres between 2010 and 2018.

Acquisition was low in the past decade because “California’s budget and fiscal outlook was different then,” said Gloria Sandoval, the deputy director of public affairs for California Department of Parks and Recreation. “In some years the state faced difficult budgetary decisions and did not have resources to acquire new properties.

The park will be the first one since Fort Ord Dunes was designated a state park in 2009, according to the Modesto Bee.

California has 279 state parks. About 68 million people visit those parks annually, according to Sandoval. Quintero said the state parks and recreation department is interested in adding to the state park inventory because “the population here is exploding.”

“During COVID, people were hungry for these outdoor spaces,” he said. “We are always keeping an eye on what could be next.”

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