Tahoe State Recreation Area © Sally Cullen
Parks Provide Solace in a Turbulent World
I am sure I am not alone in feeling like the world is teetering on its axis. From terrible loss of life and gun violence in Minneapolis, Dallas and Baton Rouge, to Brexit, to the painful forced migration of people worldwide, to weird national politics here at home in the United States – no matter your political perspective, it is an unsettling moment in history. Only time will tell if the strange gyrations and juxtapositions will yield breakthroughs or breakdowns in the human condition. Here is one humble vote for breakthroughs.
As I have written before, parks have often served as places of solace, where the human soul, individually and in community, may find respite and repair in times of great tribulation. We hope our work in some small way can make healing places more available for everyone here in California. Perhaps we can’t change the world, but we can make sure that our glorious state parks are available for renewal and inspiration.
It feels almost too normal to be reporting on the state budget. However, the Governor did sign the Fiscal Year 2016-17 budget with nary a blue mark on June 27. For insiders to the budget process in California, that is a big deal. Unlike the federal budget, the Governor has the right to veto budget line items, and traditionally that is done with a blue pencil. In other words, if there is something that the Governor doesn’t like he can just veto that line and not the whole thing. That makes this budget one that had a good deal of agreement across the board. Not complete consensus, but almost.
So what’s in it for state parks? There are a number of truly encouraging signs for parks. The first and most important is new money – $60 million for deferred maintenance projects. This funding will allow the Department of Parks and Recreation (DPR) to make critical repairs necessary to preserve visitor safety and enjoyment and protect our natural and cultural resources. In related news DPR has received a $10 million grant for sewer system upgrades at three Southern California state beaches: Doheny, El Capitan and Carpinteria. The funds come from the State Water Resources Control Board’s Clean Beaches Initiative Grant Program.
The state budget also provides funding for a number of other notable projects, including several we are particularly excited about:
- Community Outreach Pilot Program – $367,000 (State Parks Protection Fund) to support a pilot project to engage underserved and underrepresented communities from two of the largest urban population centers in the state, Los Angeles and the Bay Area.
- California History Interpretation Pilot Program – $181,000 (State Parks Protection Fund) to fund a pilot project to develop and implement an innovative approach to improving public interpretation, which will establish the basis for a new model of interpretation of California’s rich history and culture through the state parks system.
- Angel Island Immigration Station – $3 million (General Fund) for renovation of the hospital at the Angel Island Immigration Station.
These projects are especially important given the need to find opportunities within the state parks to more deeply connect with communities and to use parks as places for healing. All three will provide innovative forums for dialogue and learning. Congratulations to you and all the folks who helped make these funds available. We look forward to helping each project flourish and fulfill its promise.
In the meantime, I hope you have a great summer. And if you, like me, are looking for a place of respite from our turbulent world, I hope you will find it in a state park.
San Diego area Summer Enrichment students collect trash and recycling at South Carlsbad State Beach.
Summer Enrichment Expands to San Diego
This year grant funding from Kaiser Permanente, the David and Lucile Packard Foundation, and other generous supporters has allowed California State Parks Foundation and DPR to expand the Summer Enrichment Program to 15 parks in Northern and Southern California and to partner with new afterschool providers. Kids are already out learning and having fun in state parks! By the end of summer, approximately 2,500 students will have the chance to experience a state park—most for the first time—and avoid summer learning loss often associated with school break.
Last month, 89 5-to-14-year-olds from Oceanside and San Dieguito Boys and Girls Clubs participated in three full-day outings at the new South Carlsbad State Beach program site. They learned about the beach as a natural resource, marine debris and water quality, ocean flora and fauna, and lifeguards and what they do. In addition to collecting over 70 pounds of trash and recycling along the beach, the students got to meet veteran lifeguards and try some of their equipment, watch dolphins and swimmers through binoculars, and use hydrometers and testing kits to measure salinity and oxygen content in water samples.
Thank you to all of our members and donors who are making these and many more summer adventures possible for California youth!
Learn more about the Summer Enrichment program here.
A grant for the The Kern Environmental Education Program supports tuition for fifth and sixth graders from the Central Coast to take part in hands-on learning activities and foster a closer connection with the earth at Montaña de Oro State Park, San Simeon State Park and Morro Bay State Park.
New Grants Improve Parks Statewide
Congratulations to the newest Park Enrichment Grant recipients! In June CSPF awarded 32 grants totaling $160,000 to support state parks and park partners. These grants will engage new park visitors and communities in state parks, integrate unrepresented stories into interpretive displays, connect the next generation of stewards to the outdoors and state parks, enhance parks to improve visitor experiences, incorporate state parks into classroom learning, restore natural and cultural resources, increase public awareness of parks and park amenities, and more.
In addition to our ongoing funding priorities, this grant round emphasized capacity building for the community of park partner organizations that support and strive for excellence in California’s state parks. Grants in this category are supporting projects such as organizational strategic planning, improved educational programming, social media planning, and board assessment, recruitment and training.
CSPF awards Park Enrichment Grants twice annually, in the spring and fall, to advance excellence in California's 280 state parks. Thank you to the ongoing and generous support of CSPF members, donors, and funding partners who make these grants—and the important projects they fund—possible.
Learn more about each grant awarded and how partners throughout California are achieving excellence in state parks.
A volunteer clears invasive plants at Silver Strand State Beach.
Make a Difference at a Park Near You
Volunteering with Park Champions is a great way to help parks and learn about them at the same time. Many projects include educational opportunities about native plants, wildlife, and California history, as well as free camping! Join us for an upcoming workday, and remind yourself about the amazing diversity and value of our state parks.
You can help restore a native plant garden at Emerald Bay State Park (El Dorado), prevent wildfires at Henry W. Coe State Park (Santa Clara), remove trash from the lake at Folsom Lake State Recreation Area (Sacramento), build a fence at Cuyamaca Rancho State Park (San Diego), prepare for a festival at Fort Ross State Historic Park (Sonoma), clear the trails at China Camp State Park (Marin), clean up the overlook at MacKerricher State Park (Mendocino), or restore plant and animal habitat at Half Moon Bay State Beach (San Mateo), Malibu Lagoon State Beach (Los Angeles), or Rio de Los Angeles State Park (Los Angeles)!
These are just a few examples of the amazing work volunteer teams will be tackling this summer to make a difference in their favorite parks. Visit our website to see a map and description of upcoming Park Champions projects near you, and our Flickr page for examples of Park Champions in action. We would love to see you at a workday soon!
The proposed park bond would improve public access to parks, protect our natural resources and restore our aging state park infrastructure.
Strong Support for Proposed Park Bond
Over the past month, over 2,000 Californians have used CSPF’s Online Action Center to send messages to their policymakers in support of Assembly Bill 2444, also known as the California Parks, Water, Climate, and Coastal Protection and Outdoor Access for All Act of 2016 by Assemblymember Eduardo Garcia (D-Coachella).
We are happy to report that the California State Assembly passed AB 2444 with bipartisan support. It then moved to the Senate, where it was passed by two committees (Governance and Finance with a vote of 4-1 and Natural Resources and Water with a vote of 6-2). The bill is scheduled to be heard in the Senate Appropriations Committee in early August.
If you haven’t already, please take a moment to urge your senator to vote in support of AB 2444 and give voters the opportunity to approve funding that will improve public access to parks, protect our natural resources and restore our aging state park infrastructure.
Send your message of support for this bill to your senator now.
Go Solar, Support State Parks, and Save!
CSPF has partnered with Sungevity to help you go solar while also raising funds for CSPF! If you make the switch through CSPF’s referral link below, Sungevity will give you a $750 discount and also give $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.
It's a triple win: for you, for the planet, and for our state parks! This summer, find out how much you could save by powering your home with sunshine – request a free quote using the link below, or be sure to mention the referral code CALPARKS.
Get a quote here!
Upcoming Opportunities to Give Feedback to DPR
DPR recently announced a series of open houses for members of the public to learn about and respond to its efforts to review and improve organizational structure.
This project is part of the multi-year Transformation Team efforts that began in 2015. The Transformation Team was tasked with reviewing DPR’s organizational structure to identify opportunities to strengthen the programs and services it provides to the public.
The first open house will be held next Tuesday in Sacramento.
Date: Tuesday, July 19, 2016
Time: 6:00 - 9:00 p.m.
Location: Resources Building Auditorium 1416 9th Street, Sacramento, CA 95814
DPR is planning another open house in San Diego, and we will share more information when it becomes available. We hope to see you soon!
Read more here.
Carmel River State Beach © Susan Taylor
Photo of the Month
Congratulations to photo contestant Susan Taylor for winning the Photo of the Month for June 2016 for her stunning “Glistening Carmel Beach.”
Susan notes, “This abstract photograph was captured during sunset at Carmel River State Beach along the Pacific Coast Highway 1.”
You could be the next Photo of the Month winner! To compete, 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!
Rugged steps lead down Rustic Canyon at Topanga State Park. Photo by Roy Randall via Flickr
Weekend Travel Tips from Weekend Sherpa
Parks We Love: Topanga State Park
The phrase “step outside” takes on a whole new meaning as you drop into L.A.’s “Big Wild,” a vast urban wilderness that harbors a hidden stairway. Seek it out on a three-mile (round-trip) hike that utilizes Topanga State Park’s Rustic Canyon entry point.
Get details at Weekend Sherpa.