Letchworth State Park in New York. Photo by Andy Arthur via Flickr
It's Not So Hard to Imagine ...
Several people in my life collectively serve as an informal Elizabeth Goldstein News Service. They frequently send articles that might interest me. This week, the news came from my dad, from his hometown paper, the New York Times. It is a story about the progress New York State Parks (officially the New York State Office of Parks, Recreation and Historic Preservation) has made in upgrading facilities that have suffered from long-term deferred maintenance.
New York State has made a commitment from its General Fund capital budget of $90-110 million annually, $380 million to date, towards an ultimate commitment of $600 million. The state parks deferred maintenance list in New York State tops $1 billion. Sound familiar? California state parks has a deferred maintenance list of upwards of $1 billion, as well.
In New York they are using these ongoing dollars to really modernize the system, building visitor centers, replacing restrooms completely and repaving roads. New York State is one of the oldest park systems in the country, rivaling California’s 151 year history. A lot of its infrastructure was built in the 1960s and after 50-plus years of use, it is in serious need of repair. Sound familiar?
With gubernatorial leadership, and legislative support, New York is munching their deferred maintenance down to size, one bite at a time. By comparison, Governor Jerry Brown made a $20 million commitment to California’s deferred maintenance needs and the legislature backed him up.
What is interesting about New York’s story is that something that seems impossibly big is being tackled in a smart, systematic way that makes it manageable. We need to take the same fearless approach here in California.
We know that November and December are months when California’s Department of Parks and Recreation, the Department of Finance, and the governor’s office are working on the governor’s budget proposal for next fiscal year. So I ask Governor Brown, will we be bested by New York, or will California, with its booming economy, do the right thing and begin a steady, deep refresh of our venerable parks system for this century? We can pull together in bringing leadership to this challenge, and CSPF is ready, willing, and able to join in.
Thank you to all the CSPF members who have graced us with you permission to be YOUR Voice for Parks. We are honored to carry your message forward undaunted by the challenges ahead! Have a wonderful, warm Thanksgiving with your family and friends. Best wishes from your CSPF friends.
Save the Dates for 2016 Events!
April 16: Earth Day
Continuing our tradition of restoring state parks in honor of Earth Day, plans are underway for our 18th event on Saturday, April 16, 2016. Volunteers will be needed to help complete maintenance and improvement projects ranging from simple tasks such as invasive plant removal and beach cleanup to repairing aging fences and boardwalks, planting native trees and improving picnic areas. Save the date and join us for a productive and rewarding day in one of our state parks. A list of participating parks will be available in late December. For more information, visit calparks.org/earthday.
May 3: Park Advocacy Day
CSPF’s 14th Annual Park Advocacy Day will be held on Tuesday, May 3 in Sacramento. Mark your calendars now and plan to spend the day with us at the State Capitol lobbying policymakers in support of state parks. You can find more information about Park Advocacy Day online. Registration for this year’s event will open in December. Watch a video from PAD 2015 to see what the day is like!
Kenneth Hahn State Recreation Area in Los Angeles is one of several parks that will benefit from the latest round of grants. Photo by Shane Savanapridi
New Round of Grants Awarded
CSPF is pleased to announce a new round of 12 Park Enrichment Grants has just been awarded.
Funded projects include student field trips, a museum redesign, park brochures, transportation for school groups, educational and interpretive programming, rehabilitation of a barn and more. We wish our recent grantees success in their efforts!
Park Enrichment Grants are awarded three times a year through a competitive process and support 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. These grants are made possible by the ongoing and generous support of CSPF members, donors, and funding partners.
Patrick's Point State Park is one of many parks vets can access for free on Veterans Day. Photo by Vincent James.
Free Park Access for Veterans on November 11
Please help us spread the word that Veterans, Active Duty and Reserve Military Personnel have free access to state parks on Veterans Day on Wednesday, November 11.
Free admission on Veterans Day is part of Assembly Bill 150 by Assembly Republican Leader Kristin Olsen (R-Modesto) which was signed by Governor Brown in 2014. This legislation authorizes the Department of Parks and Recreation (DPR) to offer veterans, active duty or reserve military personnel for the United States Armed Forces and the National Guard of any state a reduced or free day use at participating California state parks on Veterans Day and Memorial Day.
Participating state parks include 134 parks that are accessible with the “California Explorer” Annual Pass, plus the California State Railroad Museum and eight State Vehicular Recreation Areas. Veterans, active duty and reserve military personnel must show a valid military ID at the park in order to receive free admission.
DPR also has a free “Distinguished Veteran Pass” for honorably discharged war veterans who are residents of California, prisoners of war or recipients of the Medal of Honor. To view requirements and to find out how to apply for this pass, please visit DPR’s website.
Montaña de Oro State Park. Photo by Brian Ujiie via Flickr.
If All of Us Who Love state Parks Voted ...
With Election Day 2015 just finished and the 2016 election already dominating the news cycle, here are some interesting facts about voting in California:
- In last year’s midterm election, California had a record-low turnout of just 42 percent
- The California Public Interest Research Group reports that only 52 percent of the state's residents ages 18 to 24 were registered to vote before the last midterm election
This begs a question, if all of us who loved state parks voted, wouldn’t we have better policies and funding for the parks we hold near and dear?
Just think of what could happen if more state park supporters voted!
CSPF has signed on to Vote with Your Mission, a new, nonpartisan voter initiative sponsored by the California Association of Nonprofits. This initiative encourages people to vote with the ideals and values represented by the nonprofit organizations that they volunteer and donate to.
Since its launch in 2012, Vote with Your Mission has picked up the support of a diverse array of nonprofits across California who are working together to ensure that our voices – as citizens as well as participants of nonprofit organizations – are heard on Election Day.
We look forward to seeing the great work that can be done when supporters of nonprofit organizations throughout California join together to Vote with Your Mission.
Volunteers Needed in a State Park Near You
Park Champions has hosted 138 workdays in 2015 to date. In this season of giving thanks, we want to extend a big THANK YOU to the 966 volunteers who worked 1,798 shifts at 31 parks across California.
Show your gratitude for state parks by joining Park Champions for a workday this fall! Help us paint historic buildings at Topanga (Los Angeles), restore the campgrounds at Picacho (Imperial), remove invasive water hyacinth at Folsom Lake (Placer County), install a bird habitat garden at Rio de Los Angeles (Los Angeles), plant trees at Baldwin Hills (Los Angeles) or Palomar Mountain (San Diego), remove invasive plants at Half Moon Bay (San Mateo), work in a native plant nursery at Candlestick Point (San Francisco) or clear the trails at Silverwood Lake (San Bernardino), Gaviota (Santa Barbara), Chino Hills (Orange/Riverside), or China Camp (San Mateo). Many projects include free kayaking or camping opportunities! 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 PG&E, Edison International, Capital Group, Southern California Gas Company, and Intel Security.
Fort Ross State Historic Park by Jim Mosher
Photo of the Month
Congratulations to photo contestant Jim Mosher for winning the Photo of the Month for October!
His image, “Fort Ross Sunset,” captures a nice perspective on Fort Ross State Historic Park. Fort Ross was a thriving Russian-American Company settlement from 1812 to 1841.
Jim said, describing the photo, “In 1812 Fort Ross was built and was a commercial outpost for Imperial Russia (Rossiia). Together, with Alaskan natives, seal and otter were hunted. After depleting these resources other commercial activity was attempted. But lack of profitability lead to the Fort being abandoned in 1842.”
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!
Mount Diablo State Park by Jesse Wagstaff via Flickr
Weekend Travel Tips from Weekend Sherpa
Diablo Double Down
Fall colors, big views, and a chance to see tarantulas! Mount Diablo State Park’s Sycamore Canyon loop trail is a 4-mile hike where you can relish the colors of fall using Knobcone Point, Blackhawk, and Sycamore Creek Roads from Curry Point. Stately oak branches slice fog into ghostly forms, and randy rogue male tarantulas are on the prowl in a last-ditch attempt to find a paramour before mating season ends.
Get details at Weekend Sherpa.