Two elephants seals fighting. Photo by Franco Folini via Flickr
A Different Kind of Weekend
I am anticipating a wonderful Super Bowl weekend doing nothing related to football! Instead, I am (hopefully) avoiding the crazy traffic and crowds by going to Año Nuevo State Park to see the true super mammals: elephant seals. Northern elephant seal bulls can reach a length of 16 feet, weigh about 5,400 pounds, and dive to well over 5,000 feet in the ocean. They are large, fascinating creatures, though hardly beautiful. They are smelly and mean, and we are certain to see some fights, mainly among the males. But to see them is to become entranced by their unusualness and complexity.
Every time I do a tour at Año Nuevo I learn something new. Partly this is because the scientific knowledge about these beasts is evolving all the time and partly it is because the docents are awesome and tell their stories in very individual ways. So they will emphasize a new aspect of the elephant seal behavior, its colony, or the park itself that will be surprising and new. That is a state park at its best — gorgeous landscape, wild weather, unusual critters and amazing storytelling that informs and inspires.
These tours also run like clockwork with many moving parts, thanks to a great DPR staff team, a wonderful local partner, and fabulous docents. CSPF drove the restoration partnership for the Marine Education Center there and I could not be more proud of our part in this park. It is a gift that keeps on giving. The elephant seals are happy, the public gets a rich educational experience, and DPR staff gets the support it deserves.
So this Super Bowl weekend, maybe make a plan to get out to a state park near you! You could even make it back in time for the big game.
Thanks for all you do for state parks!
5 State Park Events to Escape the Super Bowl
It's Super Bowl weekend. Are you just not that into football? Or would you like to get some exercise before you settle in for the big game? Either way, try out a state park this weekend! We've got five great ideas to get you started:
Stargaze in a park
Fri. 2/5, 7:30 p.m. to 9 p.m.
Anza-Borrego Desert State Park – East of San Diego
Join the Anza-Borrego Foundation on the roof deck of the visitor center to check out the night sky. Bring warm clothing, a chair or blanket to sit on, and binoculars if you have them. Photo by Thomas Haraikawa
See a Whale
Sat. and Sun. 2/6 and 2/7, 11:00 a.m.
MacKerricher State Park – North of Mendocino
Meet at the visitor center to learn from docents about the annual gray whale migration, then walk along the Laguna Point boardwalk to look for whales. Binoculars provided. Wear layers! Leashed pets OK.
Photo by Gary Philbin
Cook in a state park
Sat. 2/6, 1:00 p.m.
Santa Cruz Mission State Historic Park – Downtown Santa Cruz
Explore different cooking styles of the people who lived and worked at the Santa Cruz Mission State Historic Park for over 200 years, including hot rock cooking, tortilla frying on a Comal and baking in a Horno. Taste samples and make your own tortillas! Photo by Richard Zimmerman
Volunteer, Camp and Kayak
Sat. and Sun. 2/6 and 2/7, 9 a.m. to 1 p.m.
Salton Sea State Recreation Area – Southwest of Palm Desert
Sign up for a two-day project to help with ramada construction and grounds cleanup, and camp at the park for free Friday and Saturday nights. Plus, free kayaking on Saturday afternoon! Potable water, restrooms and showers available; no electricity. Photo by Thomas Haraikawa
Travel back in time
Sat. and Sun. 2/6 and 2/7, 11:00 a.m. – 3:00 p.m., Tour of Ranch House 1:00 p.m.
Wilder Ranch State Park – West of Santa Cruz
Visit a dairy ranch from the 1800s and learn about California’s ranching history! The one-hour tour includes early California ranching buildings and restored workshops run by water power, as well as volunteers in period clothing. Photo by Diane Main
Register for Park Advocacy Day by Feb. 26
Registration is now open for our 14th Annual Park Advocacy Day, taking place on Tuesday, May 3 in Sacramento.
Participating in Park Advocacy Day is a wonderful way for park supporters (like you!) to speak up for state parks and influence the decisions of policymakers. We can be a stronger voice for parks together! Please join us for this important event and share your love of state parks with your representatives at the State Capitol.
You can find more information about Park Advocacy Day, including registration information at calparks.org/PAD.
Please note that due to space and team size limitations, registration for Park Advocacy Day will be open until February 26, or until maximum event and/or team capacity is reached.
Give parks some TLC this Earth Day.
Earth Day Registration Opens Next Week
Mark your calendars: April 16 will be our 18th Annual Earth Day Restoration & Cleanup presented by Pacific Gas and Electric Company!
This year there will be 24 park sites with projects for volunteers and partners. We will need volunteers on Saturday, April 16 beginning at 8:30 a.m. all across the state. Be sure to join us!
Thanks to the generous support of program sponsors including PG&E, Edison International, Oracle, and Sempra, CSPF is providing grants to the 24 parks in need, allowing for long overdue renovation and repair projects. California state parks need this annual event, as due to chronic underfunding they still face a $1.3 billion (and growing) maintenance backlog. Volunteers are sought to participate in their communities to help restore the beauty of California's treasured park lands.
Since its inception in 1998, CSPF's Earth Day Restoration & Cleanup program has recruited 81,670 participants who have contributed more than 326,680 volunteer hours. Additionally, more than $3.6 million has been raised to support the program. In-kind contributors this year include Nature’s Path, and Peet’s Coffee and Tea.
The exhibit, "A Potter's Life," is on display at SFO Terminal 2 now through October.
Breathing New Life into a Park’s Artistic Past
Do you have an upcoming flight through San Francisco International Airport? Now through October 16, 2016 you can experience a piece of California state park history while passing through Terminal 2.
A new exhibition, "A Potter’s Life: Marguerite Wildenhain at Pond Farm," gives travelers a chance to view work created by Marguerite Wildenhain, a Bauhaus-trained, internationally-noted artist. Wildenhain taught, worked, and lived at Pond Farm, a studio and artist residence located in Austin Creek State Recreation Area in Sonoma County from 1942 until her death in 1985. The exhibit at SFO — part of the collection of her life-long friend Forrest L. Merrill — offers a stunning glimpse into Wildenhain’s craft.
This exhibit is especially exciting because we are currently working in partnership with National Trust for Historic Preservation, Stewards of the Coast and Redwoods, and California State Parks to revitalize the architectural and cultural heritage of Pond Farm. Pond Farm is listed in the National Register of Historic Places and is also designated a National Treasure.
Read more on our CalPark Voices blog.
Show Your Love for Parks: Volunteer!
This Valentine’s Day, fall in love with California state parks! Celebrate your affection by helping local Park Champions teams maintain and beautify beaches, lakes, mountains, and historic parks. Get your hands dirty and have fun building ramadas at the Salton Sea, building picnic tables at Carpinteria, helping in the native plant nursery at Candlestick Point, clearing the trails at Silverwood Lake, Gaviota, Topanga, Chino Hills, or China Camp, and restoring plant and animal habitat at Folsom Powerhouse, Half Moon Bay, Baldwin Hills Scenic Overlook, or Rio de Los Angeles. FREE CAMPING is available at Salton Sea, Silverwood Lake, and Gaviota. Salton Sea volunteers are also invited to enjoy FREE KAYAKING. We would love to see you there!
Visit our website to see a map of upcoming projects at parks near you and our Flickr page for examples of Park Champions in action.
The Park Champions program is made possible in part by generous sponsorship from Edison International, Capital Group, Southern California Gas Company, and Intel Security.
Sonoma Coast State Beach by Mike Shoys
Photo of the Month
Congratulations to photo contestant Mike Shoys for winning the Photo of the Month for January 2016!
His image, “Soaked,” from Sonoma Coast State Beach captures the amazing season of rain we have been having so far. Let's hope it continues!
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!
Looking west from Mt. Tam. Photo by Rich Lawton
Weekend Travel Tips from Weekend Sherpa
Marin's Mount Tam is one of the Bay Area's most traveled mountains, yet even this icon of the North Bay holds some secrets … including a summit! The less-traversed West Peak is actually Tam's original summit, and still receives less than 1 percent of the 3 million annual visitors to Mount Tam.
Get details at Weekend Sherpa.
Saddleback Butte State Park by Susan Taylor
Parks We Love
Saddleback Butte State Park
A breathtaking 360-degree view awaits you at the top of Saddleback Butte, elevation 3,651 feet — a granite mountaintop that towers above the Antelope Valley on the western edge of the Mojave Desert. Plan a visit in the springtime to see the wildflowers light up the desert floor.