All San Mateo County residents will soon be able to access the county’s 16,000 acres of parkland, regardless of economic status, after the Board of Supervisors unanimously voted to give low-income families and individuals annual County Park passes.

Nearly 20 percent of all county residents are eligible for public assistance programs for resources like health care, shelter and food. They will also soon be able to obtain an annual pass for free under the what is being called the Mariposa Program.

“Every resident of San Mateo County deserves the opportunity to enjoy our wonderful parks, no matter their income,” Board President Don Horsley said in a statement. “The benefits of parks and just being outdoors are well known. Time in nature is healing and contributes to overall health and well-being.”

The San Mateo County Human Services Agency will work alongside the San Mateo County Parks Department to enroll the 166,000 individuals who are eligible.

People gather in the Magic Mountain Picnic Area at Coyote Point Recreation Area in a 2017 file image. Admission fees at this and other parks would be waived for eligible low-income residents under San Mateo County’s Mariposa Program. (Photo via Flickr)

The decision followed recommendations set by an ad hoc subcommittee, which formed last December to find ways to make the San Mateo County Parks system more accessible to residents who do not visit them.

“The true beneficiaries will be the young people who will be able to enjoy our parks that offer so many adventures and fun activities,” said Supervisor Carole Groom in a statement. “Our goal is to set them up for a lifetime of experiences in the outdoors.”

Supervisors also unanimously passed legislation at their Nov. 15 meeting that raises the cost of an annual parks pass from $60 to $72 — the cost of two additional park visits per year — so the parks department can absorb the added costs of the Mariposa Program and fund new youth programs. The increased fee will be effective starting in January.

Camping fees at Memorial County Park have also been split between resident and nonresident rates. Effective May 2023, tent camping will cost $40 for residents and $45 for nonresidents, and trailer camping will cost $45 for residents and $50 for nonresidents.