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California

State parks are free on Black Friday, but you’ll need to get a pass

Visitors enjoy Cuyamaca Rancho State Park in San Diego County.
Visitors hike at Cuyamaca Rancho State Park in San Diego County.
(Eduardo Contreras / San Diego Union-Tribune)

If you’re thinking of wrapping your arms around a new flat-screen TV this Black Friday, nature enthusiasts want you to consider hugging something else — a tree.

Admission to state parks from San Diego to Eureka will be free on the day after Thanksgiving, thanks to a program now in its second year dubbed Green Friday.

But the complimentary passes are limited and going fast, and preregistration is required.

The Save the Redwoods League in San Francisco and the California State Parks Foundation raised $130,000 in donations this year to offer 13,000 free passes for use Friday at 116 parks throughout the state.

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“The goal of Green Friday is to establish a new holiday tradition by reconnecting California’s families with the redwood forests and spectacular landscapes of our treasured state parks, to renew their love of the outdoors,” said Sam Hodder, the league’s president.

In 2015, the program handed out 5,000 passes. Normally, parking fees are about $10 per vehicle.

“It’s not how many people can we get out there, but how many can we connect with nature and how many learn to appreciate the beauty of state parks,” said Gloria Sandoval, a spokeswoman for the park system.

joshua.smith@sduniontribune.com

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Smith writes for the San Diego Union-Tribune

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