Access to nature contributes to our sense of community, connection to wild places, and desire to be stewards of the land. Conservation starts with individuals, families, and communities finding value in natural and wild lands.
The Public Access Program is one of the original Wildlife Conservation Board (WCB) programs established in 1947. Initially the Public Access Program worked with California Department of Fish and Wildlife (CDFW) to support projects focused on the protection and development of public access areas and the promotion of hunting and fishing opportunities. This program funded construction of fishing piers, fishing ponds, boat ramps, wetlands for waterfowl, duck blinds, and development of parking lots and restrooms at CDFW-managed wildlife areas. Over time the public demand for other wildlife-oriented uses grew to include uses such as bird watching, kayaking, and hiking. The WCB's authority expanded to new partners, and broadened its program to accommodate new uses, including ADA trails, kayak "put-in" areas, interpretive signs, and bird observation shelters. Since 1949, WCB has funded nearly 700 public access projects!
WCB funds can be used for minor capital outlay and local assistance grants. Funding for competitive grants will depend on fund availability. The Program typically allocates approximately five million dollars annually, but could rise or fall each year, depending on annual appropriation.