“Nature’s Tapestry” at Sonoma Coast State Park © Sally Cullen

New Beginnings at CSPF

This spring certainly brought growth to the California State Parks Foundation.  Several parks were added to our Park Champions program, including Castle Crags State Park in Shasta County, our furthest north volunteer opportunity yet! We also created new partnerships with California Blue Shield, as well as reinforcing many years of collaboration through our 19th annual Earth Day Cleanup and Restoration. 

Perhaps our most exciting addition is our new Executive Director, Rachel Norton.  Rachel brings an extensive background in nonprofit management, communications and fundraising successes to the new role of Executive Director for CSPF. She comes from the San Francisco Parks Alliance, where she has worked in leadership positions since 2013, including most recently as the Alliance’s Interim Chief Executive Officer. As an elected Commissioner on San Francisco’s Board of Education since 2009, Rachel also brings an expert perspective to CSPF’s work in advocacy, coalition-building, and public policy.

“I am thrilled to be joining the California State Parks Foundation, a well-known and highly- regarded statewide parks advocacy organization,” says Rachel, “People across California and the nation have become galvanized in civic engagement and local advocacy to improve their communities. This is a great time to energize and inspire Californians to advocate for their state parks and continue to join forces with other like-minded organizations to make park access a reality for all Californians. There is important work ahead to ensure that park access and park experiences are open and equitable for all Californians. State parks are so important to the experience of living in this big and beautiful state and I’m looking forward to being part of CSPF.”

With Rachel’s leadership and your support, we are feeling excited and prepared to take on whatever challenges we may face together in our mission to preserve, protect and enhance California’s state parks!


Volunteers worked together on clean up and restoration projects at state parks like Candlestick Point State Recreation Area in San Francisco

Your Support Made Earth Day a Success

Thank you to the more than 3,360 volunteers, as well as park partners, sponsors and supporters that made Earth Day 2017 a huge success by making it possible to tackle improvement projects at over 40 California state parks! Collectively, volunteers worked more than 10,000 hours to help spruce up our state parks on Saturday, April 22. In addition to planting 2,843 native trees, shrubs and plants, volunteers removed 1,390 cubic yards of non-native vegetation, collected 1,082 bags of trash and 416 bags of recycling, and restored 3 miles of storm-damaged trails. Graffiti was removed, campsites were refurbished and fencing was installed or repaired!  Our precious state parks and the plants, animals and humans who need them will benefit from these improvements for years to come, and none of this would have been possible without your support!

Once again, thank you to our longtime Presenting Sponsor PG&E, and to partners Edison, Microsoft, Intel, Oracle, Target and Union Bank for providing additional support, to Peet’s Coffee and Subway for providing our hungry volunteers with breakfast and lunch, to all the volunteers who came out and rolled up their sleeves on Earth Day and of course to our members and donors who help CSPF make Earth Day every day! 


Mojave National Monument in Southern California is one of the 27 monuments under review

Use Your Voice to Protect Public Lands

Our national monuments are at risk. An Executive Order signed April 26 mandates the review of national monuments designated under the Antiquities Act since 1996 that are larger than 100,000 acres in size, or where the Interior Secretary determines the designation was made without adequate public outreach or support. Last Friday, the Department of Interior released a list of 27 monuments that will be undergoing that review. Six of those — more than 20% — are in California: Berryessa Snow MountainCarrizo PlainGiant SequoiaMojave Trails,Sand to Snow, and San Gabriel Mountains National Monuments.

Our parks and monuments are for everyone and must remain open to the public.  They preserve America’s heritage, safeguard irreplaceable wildlife, habitat and natural resources, and generate revenue for nearby communities. They serve as a testament to our collective stewardship of our natural and cultural history and should be protected for future generations. Since being an enacted in 1906, the Antiquities Act has been utilized by 16 presidents on both sides of the aisle and has preserved iconic places and landscapes, and these protections must remain in place.  Rolling back existing protections on public lands sets a dangerous precedent that has the potential to affect all open spaces. 

 An attack on one monument is an attack on all public lands. Please join us and urge your Congressional Representative to protect America’s monuments and public lands!


Park Champions embarking on a trail maintenance workday at Chino Hills State Park. Photo © Philip Oakley Otto

Make Twice the Impact for State Parks

Park Champions work crews are planning fun and impactful projects to help state parks across California! Grab your camping gear and discover a new park, take a day trip to help a local park, and connect with Core Leaders to find ways to become more involved. In addition to getting your hands dirty improving picnic areas and campgrounds, maintaining popular hiking and biking trails, and restoring habitats in beaches and urban parks, many projects include special perks like free kayaking, guided tours, and camping!

If you can’t make it to a workday, now is the perfect time to help volunteers without ever leaving home by joining the PG&E Park Champions Challenge.  Donate by May 31 and our friends at PG&E will match your gift dollar for dollar up to a total of $15,000 to help make this program and its expansion possible.  Double your impact for state parks by donating today! 

Park Champions have held dozens of workdays throughout the spring and show no signs of slowing down as the busy summer season approaches. Here are just a few ways you can get involved in the upcoming weeks:

  • Focus on the removal of invasive plant species as part of ongoing habitat restoration at Half Moon Bay State Beach (San Mateo) and Fort Ord Dunes State Park (Monterey)
  • Help maintain and improve trails at Cuyamaca Rancho State Park (San Diego), Palomar Mountain State Park (San Diego), and Malibu Creek State Park (Los Angeles)
  • Kayak around Lake Natoma at Folsom Lake State Recreation Area (El Dorado, Placer, Sacramento) and remove water hyacinth to keep the waterways clear for boaters and swimmers
  • Join us for our very first Park Champions workday at Indian Grinding Rock State Historic Park (Amador) and remove a variety of invasive plants including Yellow starthistle and Klamath weed. A free guided tour of the park will follow!
  • As a special treat, habitat restoration volunteers are offered free tent camping in popular Tahoe area parks that are booked solid most of the camping season, including: Ed Z’Berg Sugar Point State Park and D.L. Bliss State Park (El Dorado).
  • Remove a variety of invasive plants at Torrey Pines State Natural Reserve (San Diego), Candlestick Point State Recreation Area (San Francisco) and other parks during Invasive Species Action Week in June. 

Visit our website to see a map and descriptions of upcoming Park Champions projects near you, and check out the Flickr page to be inspired by the photos of volunteers' recent accomplishments.


A super bloom carpeted the usually sparse vegetation this spring in Red Rock Canyon State Park. Photo © Karen Baas

Weekend Travel Tips from Weekend Sherpa

Explore otherworldly sandstone cliffs and vast badlands at Red Rock Canyon State Park in Kern County!  One of the only parks where wandering off trail is permitted, you can get an up close look at igneous rocks and unbelievable formations.

Get the details from Weekend Sherpa.


“Ocotillo in Bloom” © Niall Fritz

April’s Photo of the Month

Congratulations to Niall Fritz, whose photo "Ocotillo in Bloom" from Anza-Borrego Desert State Park is April’s photo of the month!

This has been an epic spring for California’s largest state park, which was home to a super bloom that brought the desert landscape to life.  Niall’s photo of blooming Ocotillo, a large desert plant that isn’t quite a cactus, shows how photographers can capture brilliant photos while staying on designated trails to avoid trampling flowers and other plants.

You could be our next winner! Join our My California State Parks Flickr group to become part of a community of photographers and park lovers sharing their images. Once a month, a winner is selected to win a prize thanks to our sponsor, Lowepro!


California State Parks Foundation

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