- Felicia Matlosz
Fresno, CA – On July 23, Assemblymember Dr. Joaquin Arambula (D-Fresno) will present a $15 million check to the San Joaquin River Conservancy for operations and maintenance of conservancy land along the San Joaquin River Parkway.
The overall goal is to bolster efforts to shape the San Joaquin River Parkway into a regional jewel that can be equitably accessed and enjoyed by everyone as an asset for recreation and improved health.
The news conference will at Wildwood Native Park.
Speakers at the event will include State Senator Anna Caballero (D-Salinas), whose 12th District includes much of Madera County and a large segment of the Conservancy from Friant Dam to Highway 99.
Assemblymember Arambula said these State funds are a significant investment in the Conservancy and the region.
“We know that communities of color have less access to parks and green space, so these funds will help expand that access to public land along the San Joaquin River,” Arambula said. “We also know that families and individuals benefit from these spaces, to support their health and well-being. And, the COVID-19 pandemic magnified the importance of these uses.
“I also see these funds as an investment in our youth and in their future, that they will enjoy the scenic and reinvigorating lands along the river and one day bring their own families, for generations to come.”
John Shelton, Executive Officer of the Conservancy, said: “The San Joaquin River Conservancy has been fortunate to have a significant amount of bond funds to purchase land, fund ecosystem restoration, and build recreation facilities. However, we have been limited in our ability to open land to the public since we have lacked funding for operations and maintenance. The Conservancy has over 2,600 acres of land, but only a little over 750 acres is formally open to the public.
“This year’s State budget increase for the Conservancy will allow us to more effectively answer this need. What some have known for a while now is recognized by most – open space that is available for recreational use is essential to community health and quality of life. We need more, especially in our region.”
Sandra F. Celedon, President and CEO of Fresno Building Healthy Communities, said: “An investment in outdoor spaces and nature preservation is an investment in people and the community. And this investment continues a recent streak of California’s commitment to increase and expand access to nature. Recently, California became the first state in the nation to commit to protect 30 percent of our state’s land and coastal water. We must match this commitment with action. We are looking forward to putting these dollars to work to increase access to the river, especially for low-income and underrepresented community members. These efforts will create a more equitable and healthier California for all, starting here in our own backyard.”
Other officials scheduled to speak Friday include Madera Mayor Santos Garcia, who is a San Joaquin River Conservancy board member; Fresno City Councilmember Tyler Maxwell, who is chair of the Fresno City Council Parks Committee; and Sharon Weaver, Executive Director of the San Joaquin River Parkway and Conservation Trust.