Students camping during a Summer Enrichment program weekend
Making Parks Relevant to All
Park systems across the United States are fighting to stay relevant. For those of us who love parks, this seems hard to believe. But the dominance and distraction of technology is increasing, there is a growing trend of sedentary lifestyles, and parks are struggling to appeal to the changing demographics of the American population. All of these factors create real and expanding challenges for getting people outdoors. Hand wringing over this is understandable, but the solutions are not difficult to imagine.
Citizens who come to parks need to feel welcomed and engaged. If you grow up going to parks with your family, parks feel comfortable. But if you haven’t done that, parks may feel foreign. I am reminded of some children from West Oakland who went on their first camping trip at Mt. Tam through our Summer Enrichment program. They were nervous at first because camping was a new experience and something different from what they were used to living in a big city. However, after their first night hike, they couldn’t have been more proud of themselves for conquering their fears and learning to see the night sky in a whole new way. Park lovers were born that night!
It is important to continue to adapt parks to be relevant to today’s world, and especially important to make them welcoming to those who haven’t experienced them before.
One way to do this is to think differently about the stories we tell. For every story at Hearst Castle of William Randolph Hearst and Julia Morgan there are hundreds of stories of the people who built and worked there. I, for one, would be delighted to hear those stories. It would be kind of like a real life Downton Abbey.
We need to tell those stories in a compelling and inclusive way. There are fabulous interpretive specialists and docents out there doing this every day in our state parks system. How can we feed those folks with more varied stories? We are pleased that the California Department of Parks and Recreation (DPR) is thinking about just that, especially how they can enrich the history and interpretative information that the story tellers have to work with. We applaud that effort.
We at CSPF have been putting our shoulder to this wheel for some time. For example, our Hidden Stories series gathers profound stories that exist in our state parks system that are not adequately told. We also just kicked off the interpretive and program planning for Candlestick Point State Recreation Area by bringing statewide, citywide, and local organizations together to work with our consultants and DPR. We are hopeful that this level of community engagement from the beginning will mean that as new pieces of the park come into use, local citizens will feel a much greater sense of ownership than they might have.
I hope that all of this will inspire you to visit a state park or historic site soon! And let us know what you think about the stories you encounter in parks. Did you particularly enjoy an interpretive display? Did you find that an important story was missing or passed over too lightly? We would love to hear from you at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Thanks for your passion for state parks and everything you do to keep them vital.
You can speak up for parks at our Park Advocacy Day
Register for Park Advocacy Day By Sunday
Have you registered to participate in CSPF’s 14th Annual Park Advocacy Day yet? If not, there is still time! The deadline for registration is this Sunday, March 6.
We hope you will join this special event and share your love of state parks with decisionmakers at the State Capitol.
As a Park Advocacy Day participant, you’ll join over 100 park advocates from throughout California to spend a full day lobbying in support of state parks. You will learn about policy and budget issues impacting state parks, and share with policymakers how those issues will effect park users, park volunteers and the natural and cultural resources state parks protect.
Find more information about Park Advocacy Day, including registration information, here.
Picture yourself volunteering in a park this Earth Day.
Make a Tangible Difference This Earth Day
What could be better than spending a beautiful spring day at the coast or hiking in one of our incredible state parks? Doing so after a gratifying morning spent doing volunteer work in a park during our Earth Day 2016 Restoration and Cleanup!
We need volunteers like YOU at 27 state parks on April 16 to help us complete dozens of park improvement projects.
Grover Hot Springs State Park in Alpine County needs help maintaining its Native Plant Demonstration Garden. Sinkyone Wilderness State Park in Mendocino will make campsite improvements and repair storm-damaged trails. San Luis Reservoir State Recreation Area seeks volunteers for a shoreline cleanup. Silverwood Lake State Recreation Area needs assistance rebuilding gazebos destroyed during the 2003 wildfire in San Bernardino.
These projects and many others offer a satisfying way to spend part of your weekend in one of our state parks. We hope you'll join us.
Learn more or register to volunteer here.
Apply for a CSPF grant by March 31. Photo by Zlatka P. Stojanova
Grant Round Now Open
Thanks to the generous support of donors and members, CSPF awards Park Enrichment Grants to nonprofits, government agencies and other tax exempt organizations to advance excellence in California's 280 state parks. Grants are awarded twice annually, in the spring and fall, to increase access and connect Californians to parks, improve park facilities and amenities, build capacity for park partners, protect natural and cultural resources, and more.
The spring 2016 round is now accepting applications, with proposals due by March 31, 2016.
More information and recent awardees here.
Park Champions at Baldwin Hills Scenic Overlook
New Opportunities to Volunteer
We're Back at San Juan Bautista!
We’re so excited to return to San Juan Bautista State Historic Park (southeast of Santa Cruz) on March 13. Help us replace the fence in front of the historic Castro-Breen Adobe. Teens 16 and older welcome with a legal guardian. Tools, training, lunch, and smiles provided!
Help Park Champions volunteers improve popular hiking, biking, and equestrian trails, restore plant and animal habitat, repaint park structures, clean campfire centers and campgrounds, maintain a historic orchard, or remove invasive plants from a lake to assist boaters. This March we have 20 impactful projects to choose from, and each one could use YOU as a volunteer.
Many parks can offer volunteers free weekend camping too! Camping getaways are wonderful opportunity to help parks, make new friends, and experience a park in a meaningful way. Prime camping season for many Southern California parks is almost over; visit them before it's too hot! Camp with us at Salton Sea (Imperial), Silverwood Lake (San Bernardino), El Capitán State Beach (San Diego), Picacho (Imperial), Palomar Mountain (San Diego), Folsom Powerhouse (Sacramento), China Camp (Marin), and Salt Point (Sonoma).
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.
Little River State Beach by Dave Struthers
Photo of the Month
Congratulations to photo contestant Dave Struthers for winning the Photo of the Month for February 2016!
His image, “Little River Sculptures in the Sand,” from Little River State Beach (way up north near Trinidad), captures great natural movement, from sky to sand to water. It makes you feel like you are really there, standing with your toes in the sand.
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!
Leo Carrillo State Park by Terrell Woods via Flickr
Weekend Travel Tips from Weekend Sherpa
No, not Oscar winner Leonardo DiCaprio ... Leo Carrillo State Park!
The shores at Leo Carrillo State Park in Malibu have been the backdrop for such cinematic masterpieces as Drew Barrymore and Adam Sandler’s 50 First Dates. Of course, it’s also been the backdrop for true classics like The Karate Kid, Pirates of the Caribbean, and Clint Eastwood’s Letters from Iwo Jima, a Best Picture Nominee in 2007. Nobody can deny that Leo just has that certain star quality! The park was named after Leo Carrillo, a dedicated conservationist and actor. It features prime sunbathing, whale-watching, and surfing terrain, and there’s also a treasure trove of sea life unveiled at low tide. Check a tide chart, and when low tide favors it, climb about the rocky outcrops and see some of the stars of the Pacific: sea stars, anemones, mussels, and crabs. Cormorants, pelicans, and gulls are common in this area—trying to steal the spotlight! For the best tide pools, explore southwest of lifeguard tower 2, then stroll north to tower 3 to poke around the caves connecting beaches.
Get details at Weekend Sherpa. Be sure to check out the great state parks features on the newly-updated Weekend Sherpa website!
Hearst San Simeon State Park by Hans Veneman via Flickr
Parks We Love
Hearst San Simeon State Park
One of the oldest parks in the California state parks system, San Simeon's coastal bluffs and headlands offer unobstructed views of the ocean and rocky shore. Don’t miss the endlessly entertaining northern elephant seals nearby. In April and May, the seals return to the beaches here to molt — growing new skin and hair and shedding the old. Hearst San Simeon is also a wintering site for monarch butterflies.