March 2, 2005

Campus helps craft state’s rec policy

When the California State Parks Department of Parks and Recreation needed objective expertise in updating its statewide recreation policy, they looked to the capital’s university.

Sacramento State recreation and leisure studies professor David Rolloff answered the call. And after gathering and weighing input from dozens of individuals and groups around the state—ranging from students in the recreation and leisure studies graduate policy course to state parks and recreation commission vice chair Clint Eastwood—the proposed policy will go to the governor’s office for approval this spring.

It’s just one example of the University’s strong ties to state government and its ongoing role in policymaking.
Rolloff co-authored the document with Laura Westrup and Eric Natti, associate parks and recreation specialists with Parks and Recreation‘s planning division. Westrup, like many helping to set the agenda in state government, is a Sacramento State alum. “Recreation and leisure studies alums populate the state parks department,” Rolloff says.

The recreation policy steers decision-making about the state’s recreation programs, parks and tourism. The goal is for it to be used to define funding priorities for distributing state and federal funds from dozens of funding sources.
The policy, which was originally created in the 1960s, is revised every decade and the previous incarnation had grown so unwieldy it was largely ineffective. The new policy restates the previous policy’s views on the value of recreation, but it goes even further, Rolloff says, emphasizing the role of outdoor recreation in promoting health. This is particularly important in light of the nation’s obesity epidemic, he adds.

Rolloff says he hopes the policy will have broad applications over the next 10 years for the state’s resorts and urban hotels, local community park districts, regional natural areas and in developing grants, especially for children’s outdoor programs.

The need for the freedom of outdoor play is crucial, Rolloff says, because today’s children are at risk of being “over-programmed.”

In addition to emphasizing health applications, the state recreation policy also recommends the state provide more access to parks and open space. But, Rolloff says, it broadens the concept of access beyond just accessibility to people with disabilities. There also needs to be access for people from all income levels and locales.

“People in smaller towns can easily get to the outskirts. For those in urbanized areas it can be hard to get to open space,” he says. Of course, he notes, California has the largest park system in the country so there’s cause for optimism.

Provisions in the policy also call for an adequate supply of parklands, open space, recreation facilities and services to meet current and future demands, especially in the state’s most populated areas. And it suggests the need for educational programs about the importance of preserving the state’s resources for future generations and for leadership, cooperation and partnership in recreation management at all levels.

After a period of public input, the policy will go to Gov. Schwarzenegger.

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