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California's 1st new state park in 13 years to be near Modesto

Newsom's revised budget proposed $5 million efforted toward the first new California State Park in over a decade.

MODESTO, Calif. — Gov. Gavin Newsom’s May budget revision reveals a $5 million proposal efforted toward California’s first new state park in over a decade to be built near Modesto.

The park is set to be constructed on Dos Rios Ranch Preserve, a 2,100-acre stretch where the San Joaquin and Tuolumne Rivers meet in Stanislaus County.

California State Parks Director Armando Quintero, who has been to Dos Rios, says there are sections of the new park that contain centuries old Oak trees, looking across the river at a large national wildlife refuge. 

“We believe that everyone deserves to have a close-to-home park and access to a place where they can recreate and restore themselves,” Quintero said. 

The new public park will feature a number of services and activities that are projected to have positive economic impacts on the surrounding area.

“This is only 20 minutes from downtown Modesto, and during the heat events of summer that we are now seeing, it's places like this where you can be near the water and be in the shade,” Quintero said. “Bringing people to a park like this will bring people into the community, and they'll be going out doing things like renting kayaks, paddleboards and things like that.”

The new state park, which has not been officially named, is part of an effort to provide additional space for outdoor family space and activities in light of the recent pandemic.

“I think that we all saw during COVID that places like parks and public lands became essential landscapes,” said Quintero. “So many people went to those areas and in some cases, they were pretty crowded. So, I think we could use a few more parks for the public of California and more parks like this one.”

The nonprofit organization River Partners, which does restoration work on rivers throughout California, is currently doing restorative work surrounding Dos Rios.

According to Quintero, its goal is to revert the surrounding land that had been previously used for agriculture, back into a riparian woodland of the Central Valley.

“Within the middle of this park, there is an area that's about 1,500 acres, where some time ago there was a levee built so that farmers could grow crops there... and the crops would be protected from floods,” Quintero said. "Well, that's now been restored, and what River Partners will be able to do, is remove a part of that levee, so that during heavy rain in winter, we can actually direct floodwaters to this former floodplain.”

As preparations for the project begin, officials are awaiting approval from the state legislature to use the proposed funds to begin adding state park features to Dos Rios.

“What we are requesting is that that money be allowed to be used for the planning and early investments in amenities for visitors,” Quintero said. “Originally, that $5 million was supposed to be to purchase property for a new park, but River Partners is actually going to just transfer the land to the state so it's a real win for the state and for the public.”

The park is projected to begin opening to the public within the next year, according to Quintero, following funding approval and preparation from the state parks department.

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