WE KNEW IT … getting outside is good for your brain! And now science has proved it. For those of us parks folks, the inherent value in getting outdoors and moving your body is clear. But now the science shows that it is not just about your body, it is also about your brain and its quickness and processing power.
Recently I got an e-newsletter from the Wunderlin Group that summarized this point and cited several interesting studies on the topic. I’d like to share some of the article’s insights. So with a tipped hat to our Kentucky compatriots, here they are:
Exercise changes brain chemistry and improves cognitive function, including concentration, decision making and memory. It enhances “white matter integrity,” according to Psychology Today, and that results in faster neural connections and increases blood flow between regions of the brain.
The parts of the brain that control thinking and memory – the prefrontal cortex and medial temporal cortex – actually have greater volume in people who exercise compared to people who don’t, according to the Harvard Health Blog.
In another study done at the University of British Columbia, researchers found that regular aerobic exercise appears to boost the size of the hippocampus, the brain area involved in verbal memory and learning.
So in case you were having trouble making a little time to get to a state park to hike or swim or otherwise enjoy yourself while exercising, go for it! It is good for you and will give you a bigger brain. Got to love that!
Updates from Sacramento
Summer in Sacramento is in full swing – with the Legislature still working on parks-related bills, a new state budget in effect, and the possibility of the Governor moving (back) in to a state park! Here are some updates from our capital:
On June 24, Governor Brown signed the state’s $167 billion state budget. While the budget for the Department of Parks and Recreation (DPR) did not contain any surprises or increases, DPR did receive authority for a modest, one-time infusion of State Park & Recreation Fund (SPRF) funding to maintain current operations. The budget also included funding to open the new museum at Donner Memorial State Park and to re-open Los Angeles State Historic Park, which has been undergoing construction over the last year. CSPF is particularly pleased to announce that the budget dedicated $10 million toward outdoor environmental and recreation programs, consistent with the intent of Assembly Bill 988. (More on that bill below.)
Volunteer Prevailing Wage Exemption Signed!
On July 6, Governor Brown signed Assembly Bill 327 by Assemblymember Richard Gordon (D-Menlo Park). AB 327 continues an exemption from prevailing wage for volunteers who perform public works-type projects. Current law provides such an exemption until 2017, but AB 327 extends that exemption for another 7 years to 2024.
Assembly Bill 988 by Assemblymember Mark Stone (D-Santa Cruz) and Assembly Speaker Toni Atkins (D-San Diego) continues to advance in the legislative process, most recently passing out of the Senate Natural Resources & Water Committee on July 14 with an 8-1 vote. The bill, which requires DPR to develop a new Outdoor Environmental Education and Recreation Grants Program, recognizes the value and benefits of increasing youth access to the outdoors. The bill has been enjoying broad support in the Legislature and with the $10 million in the budget for such purposes, we believe that’s a great boost as this bill continues its path to the governor, with the next stop in the Senate Appropriations Committee.
Senate Bill 317 by Senate President pro Tem Kevin de León (D-Los Angeles), establishes the framework for a park bond that would go on the November 2016 ballot. The bill, which contains $200 million for capital-related state park funding and $50 million for the State Park Enterprise Fund, is currently on the Senate Floor and has not yet come up for a vote. The bond has an urgency clause and needs a 2/3 vote to advance to the Assembly, but because of that urgency clause, it is not subject to the regular legislative deadlines and can still advance in this year’s session, if it gets the necessary votes.
Assembly Bill 549 by Assembly Water, Parks & Wildlife Chair Mark Levine (D-San Rafael), encourages DPR to develop more overnight accommodations in state parks and allows them to partner with nonprofits to operate such accommodations. The bill also clarifies that DPR may enter into partnership agreements with various kinds of partners, and may provide low cost or free access to parks in recognition of such partnerships. AB 549 also requires DPR to draft a statewide fee policy to bring transparency to the process of setting and establishing fees in the state park system.
Senate Bill 204 by Senator Fran Pavely (D-Agoura Hills) acknowledges the important role of nonprofit organizations and removes a 2017 sunset on DPR’s authority to enter into operating agreements with nonprofits to keep our parks available and enjoyable to the public. The bill also requires DPR to identify its top 10 projects that have potential to decrease greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions and could be funded with the state’s cap-and-trade revenues. SB 204 also amends Public Resources Code Sections 5001 and 5001.2 to codify the purpose and value of our state parks system and reinforces that protecting, enhancing, and promoting our state parks is a priority for California.
CSPF will continue to be active in supporting and advocating for these bills and will keep members apprised as they move along.
The Governor and the Mansion
What has been a rumor in Sacramento for months was confirmed recently when the San Diego Union-Tribune and The Sacramento Bee reported Governor Brown’s spokespeople said he may move (back) to Governor’s Mansion State Historic Park. Governor Brown has a history with the Mansion, as his father, Pat Brown, lived there when he was in office, though the younger Brown was in college and law school at that time. Regardless, we think there is no better way for a governor to appreciate the value of our state parks than to live in one, so we look forward to saying “Welcome Home Governor Brown” when and if he moves into the State Historic Park!
CSPF is pleased to announce our first Youth Art Contest! With summer in full swing, we know state parks are full of Californians having great vacations, making memories, and enjoying all the things that make state parks great. It’s a perfect time for young Californians to enter our art contest and show us why they think State Parks Are Great Places.
The contest is open to all California youth ages 4 to 18, and we’re asking for poster submissions. The full contest rules and entry form can be found here. Submissions will be accepted until September 8, so there’s plenty of time to get those creative juices flowing. Just carving out the time and space to be creative is a reward itself, but one top contest winner in each age category will win a prize package that includes day-use passes to state parks, CSPF merchandise, and $50 gift cards from Subway. Special thanks to our contest partner, Subway, for supporting this contest. Good luck to all the youth artists.
Sarah Participates in a Park Champions Work Day
Help Get State Parks Ready for Summer
“Because they’re beautiful and parks are fun!”
That’s what ten-year-old Sarah said at one of our recent volunteer workdays when we asked why she loves state parks. Sarah and her mother Hilda, along with hundreds of other CSPF volunteers, are working hard to get state parks ready for summer, when millions of people come out to enjoy a variety of outdoor activities.
It's a huge job, but with our Park Champions volunteer program we're repairing boardwalks and fences, cleaning up campgrounds, maintaining trails and more — urgent projects that simply wouldn't get done otherwise in this era of restricted state budgets and a park maintenance backlog of more than $1.3 billion.
But getting parks ready for summer takes more than volunteer labor. We need funding to manage the program and provide our volunteers with the tools and supplies they need — and you can help!
We'll put your donation to work right away to make sure our parks are thriving this summer…and in summers for generations to come.
Grants Support Excellence in Parks
CSPF is pleased to announce a new round of 17 Park Enrichment Grants has just been awarded. Some of the projects funded include transportation for school field trips, wildlife monitoring, habitat restoration, organizational capacity building for non-profit park partners, coastal cleanup days and more. A full list of the most recent awards can be found here. Congratulations to our recent grantees.
Park Enrichment Grants are awarded three times a year in a competitive process that supports projects or programs that embody CSPF’s Park Excellence Project vision elements: Celebrate Our Enduring Heritage, Welcome Visitors, Teach Californians, Safeguard Resources, and Connect Individuals, Organizations, and Partners. Funding for these grants is made possible by the ongoing and generous support of CSPF members, donors, and funding partners. The generous support of Anchor Brewing Company has funded several grant projects in the last year, and this round directly supported a wildlife monitoring project by Citizens for East Shore Parks. Thank you Anchor Brewing Company and CSPF supporters for your support of Park Enrichment Grants!
Go Solar, Support Our State Parks, and Save!
CSPF has partnered with Sungevity to help you go solar while also raising funds for CSPF! If you go solar through CSPF’s referral link below, Sungevity will give you a $750 discount and also donate $750 to CSPF.
Sungevity makes the process simple: their solar experts will remotely design a system for your residence and give you the information you need to weigh your solar options. If you move forward, Sungevity manages every aspect of installation. Finally, enjoy peace of mind that your system will perform as guaranteed and monitor your solar production with Sungevity’s mobile app anywhere, anytime.
Join one of our friendly volunteer teams to help maintain historic orchards at Burleigh Murray Ranch (San Mateo) or Palomar Mountain (San Diego), assist with general park maintenance at Candlestick Point (San Francisco), clear the trails at Mount San Jacinto (Riverside) or China Camp (Marin), restore plant and animal habitat at Half Moon Bay (San Mateo), Silver Strand (San Diego), Jack London (Sonoma), or Folsom Lake (Sacramento).
We are especially excited to invite you to our first Park Champions workday at Schooner Gulch State Beach (Mendocino). Volunteers will repair the stairs leading to the beach. Free weekend camping is available!
Would you like to help lead workdays? Many Leadership Teams are recruiting new Core Leaders. If you are interested, please attend a workday and ask the Core Leaders if they are recruiting.
The Park Champions program is made possible in part by generous sponsorship from PG&E, Edison International, Capital Group, Southern California Gas Company, and Intel Security.
Thomas Lepage accepts his award for the 5 to 9 age group.
CSPF Presents Youth Art Award at State Fair Youth Art & Design Competition
The California State Parks Foundation is proud to support the California State Fair’s Youth Art Competition which highlights the creative talents of California’s youth. This year, we were pleased to once again present our Youth Art Award for the outstanding art pieces inspired by California’s State Parks and natural environment. There were a range of categories from fine art, such as paintings and water colors, to crafts and hobbies, including sewing projects, models animation and more.
On July 13, CSPF presented awards to the following young artists at the Golden Bear Youth Art Ceremony in Sacramento:
Thomas Lepage of Elk Grove for his painting “Big Trees State Park” – age group 5 to 9
Alexandra Rossi of Piedmont for her painting “Point Lobos” – age group 5 to 9
Lyna Jiang of Woodland for her pastel and charcoal “The Sunrise” – age group 10 to 12
Amy Dimas of Sacramento for her mixed media “Albatross” – age group 13 to 15
Kylie McClernon of Citrus Heights for 3D artwork “Great Outdoors” – age group 16 to 18
Desmond Bague of Stockton for mixed media “San Francisco Shoreline” – age group 16 to 18
The outstanding art work of these artists was displayed at this year’s Golden Bear Art Exhibit. Each artist was awarded a prize package which included a CSPF tote bag, water bottle, writing journal and California state park day use passes! We are hopeful that visitors to this year’s State Fair Art Exhibit were inspired by these young artists to visit California’s marvelous state parks themselves!
Your Great Places Photos are In!
Thank you to everyone who participated this spring in our "State Parks are Great Places for You & Me" Photo Challenge on Facebook. We pulled together just some of the great photos in this short video. Take a look!
Congratulations to photo contestant Frank Huang for winning the Photo of the Month for June!
His image, “Thoughts,” from Montaña de Oro State Park, gives a strong sense of place: you can hear the crashing waves and feel the jagged rocks.
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!
Weekend Travel Tips from Weekend Sherpa
Located in the high desert of the Eastern Sierra, Bodie State Historic Park looks like a Hollywood set for a Western movie. But this isn't Hollywood magic—it's a gold-mining ghost town that's as pure Wild West as it gets! Named after William Bodey, who discovered gold in the hills north of Mono Lake, the former boomtown was home to thousands of people who flocked to the area in search of their mining riches. Things didn't work out as planned, but thanks to its designation as a National Historic Site in 1962, Bodie remains in a state of “arrested decay” (aka frozen in time).
Hike, bike, kayak, picnic, camp … how do you adventure? It's time for the 4th annual Weekend Sherpa Adventure Challenge! Do any three adventures from Weekend Sherpa and get an all-new T-shirt specially made by The North Face. Plus get a limited-edition tote bag and be entered to win the Grand Prize: two round-trip tickets anywhere Alaska Airlines flies from California!