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California’s New 1600-Acre State Park Set to Open This Summer

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The confluence of the San Joaquin River, left, and Tuolumne River, right, along the Dos Rios Ranch on Tuesday, Sept. 21, 2021, in Modesto, California. (Brian van der Brug/Los Angeles Times via Getty Images)

Californians can soon enjoy a new state park at the heart of the Central Valley, the first in about a decade. The Dos Rios preserve, about 90 minutes east of San Francisco, is a lush floodplain filled with green grass, shrubs and native trees like cottonwood, willows and valley oaks.

Visitors can hike through miles of trail beginning June 12. The park is located eight miles east of Modesto near the convergence of the San Joaquin and Tuolumne rivers.

Until about a decade ago, Dos Rios was a dairy and cattle ranch owned by farmers who grew tomatoes and almonds. But year after year, floods swept through, damaging the crops. In 2012, the owners sold all 1,600 acres to River Partners, an environmental nonprofit dedicated to conservation.

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Today, after more than a decade of restoration work, Dos Rios is a flourishing riparian forest. The area hosts many endangered and migratory wildlife, including brush rabbits, Chinook salmon and Swainson’s hawk.

River Partners donated Dos Rios last year to the California State Parks. In a statement, the organization wrote, “California’s newest state park fulfills our vision of giving the publicly funded property back to Valley residents to enjoy and steward forever.”

Gov. Gavin Newsom, who visited Dos Rios at an Earth Day celebration on Monday, said the new park plays an important role in the state’s commitment to meet its climate goals.

“Today, for the first time, we integrate the environmental conservation work that we do and put it in direct service to meeting our carbon goals,” said Wade Crowfoot, California’s Natural Resources Secretary, who was present at the celebration.

Dos Rios is California’s first park to open in over a decade. Newsom said the new park fills a big void in the vast San Joaquin Valley by offering residents, many of whom are low-income and communities of color, a unique nature preserve. Residents with a California Public Library pass can enjoy free access to select state parks.

The California State Parks will consult with the tribal communities for potential access to river activities like boating and swimming in the future.

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