Natural Bridges © Sally Cullen

Summer Has Returned to State Parks

Hiking through sunlit redwoods, seeking refuge from hot weather in a cool river or stream, camping under the stars…summer has returned to California and everyone has a different way of enjoying state parks. For California State Parks Foudation, that means a busy summer of state parks advocacy. We’ve been keeping a close eye on park related legislation, creating ways for Californians to take action and preparing for our annual day of lobbying on Park Advocacy Day.

On the ground in state parks, Park Champions have been working hard to give parks a helping hand to recover from extreme winter weather. Our volunteers make maintenance and improvement projects possible that enable park visitors to have incredible outdoor experiences.  

As summer picks up steam and parks are flooded with visitors, it’s crucial to remember that California’s state parks truly do belong to all of us, and that it’s our responsibility to care for them. Visiting parks, volunteering, and staying engaged and informed can make the difference that it takes to protect and preserve these magical places.


Volunteers removed invasive species from parks like Salt Point State Park during California Invasive Species Action Week. Photo © Alyssa Persau

Volunteers are Ready for Summer

Summer is just starting to heat up state parks, but our Park Champions volunteers stay busy all year long! This month, Park Champions joined State Parks Environmental Scientists to make state parks better homes for California native plants and animals during California Invasive Species Action Week! Special projects focused on removal of non-native species, restoration and maintenance. 

Park Champions have such a great time giving back to the state parks they love, that two volunteers, Ada Wong and Bob Fox, recently reached their 100th workdays! That’s 100 times each that they spent the day clearing trails, restoring habitats and maintaining facilities. Whether you’re volunteering for the first time or for the hundredth, there are lot of ways to get involved this month:

  • Join the last Invasive Species Action Week workday at Salt Point State Park (Sonoma) to help provide a healthier ecosystem for native plants and animals and camp for free!
  • Practice your carpentry skills at Carpinteria State Beach (Santa Barbara and Ventura) by helping construct picnic tables.
  • Stain redwood benches at our first ever workday at Mono Lake Tufa State Natural Reserve (Mono) and join us for a guided walk afterward.
  • Conduct an archaeological survey at an abandoned settlement near Eureka Peak in Plumas-Eureka State Park (Plumas).
  • Help restore habitats at Half Moon Bay State Beach (San Mateo) and Los Angeles State Historic Park (Los Angeles), or restore trails at Palomar Mountain State Park (San Diego) and Cuyamaca Rancho State Park (San Diego).

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!

Special thanks go out to Blue Shield of California employees who came out to Santa Susana Pass State Historic Park and Candlestick Point State Recreation Area for corporate workdays that focused on trail maintenance and picking up litter!


Local fourth graders delivering thousands of petitions to Jerry Brown during Park Advocacy Day in 2015 urging him to prioritize California’s state parks.

Continuing a Legacy of Advocacy

On Tuesday, June 20, more than 100 state park advocates from across California will gather in Sacramento to participate in our 15th annual Park Advocacy Day. Park supporters will spend the day meeting with state legislators and policymakers to urge elected officials to take action to protect and support California’s 280 state parks.

Over the past 15 years, Park Advocacy Day has brought thousands of individuals together to lobby policymakers in support of sustainable funding and protection of state parks, increasing access for all Californians, and other important state park issues. Now more than ever, we need to send a powerful message that our beloved state parks must be a priority, and you can make your voice heard along with those attending Park Advocacy Day by signing our petition to the governor online to be delivered on June 20. Join park advocates and stewards and add your voice to make our state parks are a legislative priority!


“Spirits in the Constellations” by Anika Huang won 2nd place in the age 10-12 category.

Youth Artwork on Display in Sacramento

This month, the winning art from our second annual Youth Art Contest will adorn the halls of the Capitol building in Sacramento. The 35 masterpieces on display were awarded prizes and special recognition by judges who considered nearly 400 submissions from artists ages 4 to 18. 

Visitors, staff and legislators in the State Capitol will be able to enjoy posters of the winning art and learn what “Discovering State Parks” means to these young Californians. Through each piece, they illustrate the diversity of state parks in California, as well as the diversity of experiences that individuals can have in them. We hope this artwork reinforces for all who see it that all youth throughout the state — today and for generations to come — should have opportunities to discover the history and beauty found in our state parks.

Stop by the third floor of the Capitol Building if you are in the area this June, or view and learn more about the winning artwork on our website.


Summer is a great time to take advantage of recreational activities at parks, like kayaking on Lake Natoma at Folsom Lake State Recreation Area. Photo © Sally Cullen

Stay Safe and Have Fun Outdoors

Heavy rain brought waterways in California back to life, but it also made them faster, colder and deeper, making it even more important to be aware of safety guidelines when embarking on state park adventures this summer. Check out PG&E’s 2017 Summer Safety Guide, which features our Park Champions program, to learn the best practices for hiking, swimming, boating and staying cool, and make sure to work safety into your summer plans!


This serene photo of a barred owl captures the sense of peace and wonder of Jedediah Smith Redwoods State Park. Photo © Mario Vaden (M.D. Vaden)

May’s Photo of the Month

Congratulations to Mario Vaden, whose photo of a barred owl at Jedediah Smith Redwoods State Park was chosen as May’s photo of the month! Though a resident of Southern Oregon, Mario told us that he frequently visits California’s state parks and especially loves photographing redwoods.

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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