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California announces first new state park in a decade and sets climate targets for natural areas

SACRAMENTO, Calif. (AP) — California will open its first new state park in a decade this summer, Gov. Gavin Newsom and state officials announced Monday, as the state sets goals for reducing global warming emissions on natural lands .

SACRAMENTO, Calif. (AP) — California will open its first new state park in a decade this summer, Gov. Gavin Newsom and state officials announced Monday, as the state sets goals for reducing global warming emissions on natural lands .

The 648-acre Dos Rios area in the state’s crop-rich Central Valley will open June 12 as California’s 281st state park. Located near the confluence of the Tuolumne and San Joaquin rivers, it is surrounded by extensive almond orchards and dairy pastures. Californians will be able to use the park for hiking and picnicking, and there are plans for access to swimming and boating in the future.

Ali Manzo, a Central Valley native and California State Parks interpreter, said the new park will help bring people together and allow them to develop a deeper respect for nature.

“Dos Rios is not just a park,” Manzo said. “It is a community treasure that offers tranquility, adventure and a vital connection to nature.”

Manzo joined the governor, first partner Jennifer Siebel Newsom and civil rights icon Dolores Huerta to announce the new park.

The Earth Day announcement comes as Newsom unveiled new goals for reducing greenhouse gas emissions from natural lands. The plan aims to reduce the risk of forest fires, expand forest cover and restore wetlands. Newsom said the goals would move the state closer to achieving its mandate of carbon neutrality, which means removing as much carbon emissions from the atmosphere as it emits by 2045.

“These are undoubtedly ambitious goals,” the Democratic governor said. “The good news is that we are making real progress.”

Newsom did not say what success would look like in implementing the goals. His administration has not released an estimate of how much the plan would cost the state, which faces a huge projected budget deficit.

The goals stem from a law Newsom signed in 2022 that requires the state Natural Resources Agency to work with other agencies to create a plan to reduce emissions from natural lands.

The plan aims to reduce the risks of wildfires on nearly 138,000 square kilometers of land by 2045 through methods that include burning vegetation that can make wildfires more intense. The state also plans to plant 4.2 million trees, manage and restore 647,000 hectares of grassland and protect more than 94,000 hectares of wetlands and seagrasses during that period.

California has spent about $9.6 billion since 2020 on efforts to address climate change using the state’s natural lands.

Natural Resources Secretary Wade Crowfoot called the plan “a big deal” because the state has focused much of its climate policy on reducing emissions from other areas, such as the energy sector, and fewer from natural areas.

“We know we need to significantly reduce pollution, but we also need to improve the health of our landscapes to actually remove carbon dioxide from the air,” Crowfoot said.

In recent years, the state has approved the eventual end to the sale of new fossil fuel cars, lawn mowers, large trucks that transport goods through ports and diesel-powered trains.

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Sophie Austin reported from Sacramento. Austin is a corps member for The Associated Press/Report for America Statehouse News Initiative. Report for America is a nonprofit national service program that places journalists in local newsrooms to report on undercovered issues. Follow Austin on X, the platform formerly known as Twitter: @sophieadanna

Sophie Austin, The Associated Press