Roosevelt Elk courting in Harry A. Merlo State Recreation Area. Photo by Steve Zmak
The Holiday Season
I always feel like early December is a rush to complete tasks before folks start peeling off for the holidays. This year is no exception. We are working hard with our state parks partners to finish up important portions of two capital projects; one for Los Angeles State Historic Park that will be opening in 2016, the other for Phase 2 of Yosemite Slough in Candlestick State Recreation Area. That phase will open this portion of Candlestick to the public for the first time, in late 2017 if all goes well.
We are lucky to have dedicated donors who are making these projects their own. How wonderful is that? Just as importantly, in each case these parks will be extraordinary examples of community engagement, attracting not only visitors but also partners who will help ensure that these parks become vibrant parts of the community. This focus of using state parks as a catalyst for lively community participation is thrilling and evidence that there is a transformation taking root in our state parks system.
With Thanksgiving, Black Friday, Cyber Monday and Giving Tuesday behind us, we are in the throes of the new holiday season. Like you, I have an inbox full of worthy causes. That is why I want to express my appreciation for you who have picked us out of the herd. Every nonprofit organization thinks their cause is important, or why else would we have chosen this field as our profession? But it is the validation that we receive from you, who care about state parks deeply and carve out a little bit of your very busy year to not only enjoy state parks but provide support for them that is an inspiration to us.
So with all sincerity, everyone here at CSPF wishes you, your family and friends a lovely holiday season. And if that includes a visit or two to a state park — how can you go wrong?
Help Care for the Parks You Love!
Park staff do the best they can — but years of state budget shortfalls have resulted in understaffed facilities and a $1 billion backlog of maintenance projects. And as any park visitor knows, that means reduced hours, eroding trails, substandard bathrooms, deteriorating buildings and other problems.
That's why we launched the State Parks Improvement Campaign. Thanks to supporters like you, we're funding innovative projects that make a difference for parks today, while we advocate in Sacramento for sustainable funding solutions for the long term.
To ensure we can continue to meet these urgent needs in the coming year, we need to raise $400,000 by December 31 — so we hope you'll join the campaign.
And right now is the perfect time to give, because the CSPF Board of Trustees will match all campaign gifts up to $200,000 — so any amount you give to improve state parks will make twice the impact!
One of hundreds of submissions to our inaugural youth art contest.
Announcing Youth Art Contest Winners
Over 140 California kids ages 4 to 18 entered CSPF’s inaugural Youth Art Contest, submitting artwork inspired by the theme of “California’s State Parks are Great Places for You and Me.”
With so many talented artists participating, our judges had a difficult task at hand! Participants used a variety of flat media including chalk, marker, crayon, ink and pencil. They also captured the diversity of California’s state park system — from ocean, river and lakes to historic sites to forests, mountains and deserts.
One of our goals of the Youth Art Contest is to encourage youth to seek inspiration for their art in California’s state parks. However, we also hope that their artwork will inspire you to visit state parks as well.
A special thanks to our contest partner, Subway, for providing $50 gift cards to our first place winners in each age group, and to our judges: President of Sustainable Tahoe Penelope Curtis, Youth Program Supervisor Alison Wells, California Museum Curator Bruce N. Stiny, and Northern Area President of the California Arts Education Association Pam Avery.
Support state parks when you drive by pre-ordering a state parks license plate today.
New State Park License Plate Released
Now you can support state parks in a new way with the ParksPLATE specialized license plate. Proceeds from the sales of the plate will go towards preservation and restoration projects throughout California state parks.
The plate features California’s official tree, the California redwood, painted by Napa artist and middle school art teacher Wyn Ericson. Ericson’s redwood painting was chosen in a contest for the license plate’s design.
When Ericson heard about the license plate design contest from a friend on Facebook, it seemed like a great fit and started sketching right away. He grew up in a family of artists, and has long been inspired by the outdoors. He even used to bring his paint set on camping trips so he could paint outdoors with his dad, a plein air artist.
“I’ve always been inspired by the outdoors. I like to paint real things that I can look at and try to replicate in color, texture, things like that,” said Ericson.
Ericson also sees tangible benefits when he takes his 6th, 7th and 8th grade students outside for lessons. “Getting outside for kids so that they are feeling, breathing, looking up at the cloud formations – those are all things that inspire them. When we change their setting from the classroom they become much more focused,” said Ericson.
Winning the art contest has been validation for Ericson and his life-long dedication to art. “Art is such a great way to do what you love, but it is hard to get it out there when you are ready to share. A lot of people get discouraged. But I would say keep doing your art and putting it out there. One day, it will all make sense, but it doesn’t come easy.”
And now you can have one of Ericson’s paintings on your license plate. When you pre-purchasing the ParksPLATE, you will be among the first to receive the plate to display on your vehicle. Plus, you will have the satisfaction knowing the funding from your plate will be used for preservation and restoration projects throughout California state parks.
To begin the process, 7,500 pre-paid applications must be collected within two years before the Department of Motor Vehicles may begin programming efforts necessary to issue plates. The ParksPLATE will be $50 (or $98 for a personalized plate).
CSPF is pleased to share that a recent Park Enrichment Grant awarded to the American River Conservancy has made an improvement toward excellence by increasing the commitment of volunteers at Marshall Gold Discovery State Historic Park. Marshall Gold is a historic site where gold was discovered in 1848. Visitors to the park can learn about California’s gold rush history, experience what life was like in the 1850s, and participate in botany and wildlife nature tours.
The American River Conservancy used their grant funding to partner with the University of California and present a 10-week California Naturalists certification course. 20 participants were trained on California’s unique natural and cultural resources using a science based science curriculum, hands-on learning, problem solving, and citizen science. As part of the course, participants completed 40 volunteer hours, and those who received scholarships completed their hours at Marshall Gold.
Elena DeLacy, stewardship director of the American River Conservancy, shared her thoughts on the grant project: “One of the great successes of the project is that there is now an educated and informed pool of natural history interpreters who can be called upon by State Parks and the American River Conservancy to help lead hikes and provide natural history tours. One example of this success is illustrated by a scholarship recipient who has coordinated a program called ‘Born to Roam,’ which is a free, family-oriented natural history exploration program that had its debut in the Marshall Gold Discovery State Historic Park.”
Congratulations to American River Conservancy and the 20 new naturalists sharing their new expertise within their communities.
Volunteer for Holiday Cheer
During this season of giving, spread your joy for state parks by volunteering with a local Park Champions team! Help with park beautification and maintenance at Mount Diablo (Contra Costa), Candlestick Point (San Francisco) or Salton Sea (Imperial), plant native plants and trees at Half Moon Bay (San Mateo) or Baldwin Hills Scenic Overlook (Los Angeles), remove invasive plants from the American River at Folsom Lake (Placer), or improve the trails at Gaviota (Santa Barbara), Topanga (Los Angeles), or China Camp (San Mateo). We would love to see you at a workday soon!
Choose the membership level you want to give, and send an eCard to tell about your gift. We'll send your recipient their membership card, and then they'll be able to access all of the benefits that come with their membership.
Together, we will improve life for all Californians by expanding access to the natural beauty, rich culture and history, and the educational and recreational opportunities offered by California’s 279 state parks and beaches.
Oceano Dunes State Vehicular Recreation Area by Steve Zmak
Photo of the Month
Congratulations to photo contestant Steve Zmak for winning the Photo of the Month for November!
His image, “Storm Over Dunescape,” is a cool abstract glimpse of Oceano Dunes State Vehicular Recreation Area. Located in Pismo Beach, the dunes of this park are formed by the prevailing winds that blow in from the ocean and push sand up in wave-like crests.
You could be the next Photo of the Month winner! To compete in CSPF’s contest, simply complete your free registration on MyParkPhotos.com and be sure to check off “California State Parks Foundation” next to "Join Partner Contests." Thank you to our contest sponsor Lowepro!
Garrapata State Beach by Mike Ryan
Weekend Travel Tips from Weekend Sherpa
A hidden coastal hike in Big Sur, a beautiful beach, and maybe a little wine-tasting afterwards? Sounds like a plan! First, the hike. Big Sur's Garrapata State Park is a coast-hugging beauty with little-known trails leading to a Big Surplus of vistas. Located just 7 miles from Carmel, it's easy to pass by this gem en route to other Big Sur destinations, so a lot of people miss out.