The election brings good news to Los Angeles area state parks like Castaic Lake © Thomas Haraikawa.
A Week of Victories for State Parks
I know it is election week, but I have a piece of huge news from another arena to share first. Today, the TCA Board approved a long-negotiated settlement that at its core protects San Onofre State Beach (SOSB) and the Richard and Donna O’Neill Land Conservancy from future routes of the Foothill South toll road (SR 241.) Attorney General Kamala Harris is also a party to the settlement on behalf of the People of California, the Native American Heritage Commission and the Park and Recreation Commission.
The Save San Onofre Coalition, including California State Parks Foundation and 11 other organizations, has fought battles in many different venues and under many different circumstances to get us to the settlement approved by the TCA Board today (read more below). I will be forever awed by the organizations and leaders with whom I’ve been privileged to work on this issue. And I want to honor the thousands and thousands of you who showed up at hearings, wrote letters and just plain cared enough to keep this issue in your thoughts.
Now back to the rest of the country’s main event…The longest election season is finally over, at least formally. Let’s take a moment to heave a sigh of relief that it is behind us and to celebrate the good news for parks. Prop 64 passed, bringing the promise of new resources to California state parks. Prop 67, the plastic bag ban, also passed (and Prop 65 was defeated). In addition, a key local initiative for parks in LA saw victory!
Last but not least, I want to share some personal news. I will be stepping down as President of California State Parks Foundation on December 31. I have had the honor of serving this organization; its dedicated staff, board, and community; and state parks for more than 12 years. I couldn’t be more proud of what we have accomplished together, from protecting San Onofre State Beach and Anza-Borrego Desert from inappropriate development, to helping secure new funding and partnership models to support state parks, to increasing access to the cultural and recreational opportunities in state parks through major urban park projects in San Francisco and Los Angeles.
CSPF’s incredible strength as an organization is its willingness to find the right need and niche for each moment in its history. Over the past months, I have been working with all my wonderful colleagues to identify and define the next chapter for the organization as state parks strive to find a broader audience in the modern California we love and value.
CSPF’s board has begun a search for my successor and will bring on an interim Executive Director to create a bridge to new leadership. I am excited about my own next chapter, which is just now unfolding but will take me and my husband closer to my stepson and my father who is happy and healthy and living in the Bronx, where I grew up. I will keep you posted about where you will find me next.
In the meantime, I want to thank you for your incredible commitment to CSPF. I appreciate all of our supporters and the varied voices you’ve brought to the state parks movement. We are so much stronger together!
San Onofre State Beach and other public lands are now permanently protected from toll road development.
Where There’s a Will, There’s a Way
After years of pitched battle, the Transportation Corridor Authority (TCA) Board today approved a long-negotiated settlement that at its core protects San Onofre State Beach and the Richard and Donna O’Neill Land Conservancy from future routes of the Foothill South toll road (SR 241).
In addition to TCA and the Save San Onofre Coalition, Attorney General Kamala Harris is also a party to the settlement on behalf of the People of California, the Native American Heritage Commission and the Park and Recreation Commission. The settlement represents a key acknowledgement that the protection of these precious lands can co-exist with the exploration of new routes for a connection between the SR 241 and the I-5.
As you know, the fight over San Onofre’s protection took on symbolic importance as the poster child for development projects that threatened state parks. For CSPF, this iconic issue was so important that it was the first time the organization ever entered into a lawsuit to prevent a project from being built.
The Save San Onofre Coalition, including California State Parks Foundation and 11 other organizations, has fought battles in many different venues and under many different circumstances to get us to today’s settlement – from our persuasion of Congress to undo special legislation that granted the TCA exemptions from state and federal laws to the decision of the California Coastal Commission to reject a TCA permit request for the so-called Green Alignment that would have destroyed San Onofre State Beach; from a TCA appeal of the Coastal Commission ruling to the federal Department of Commerce (which ultimately was also rejected) to heated discussions about water permits and the proposed Tesoro extension segment.
This decade-plus fight has been about ensuring public access to important lands for every purpose suited to them, whether that be the sacred practices of the Juaneño/Acjachemen people, the pursuit of the next great wave at Trestle Beach, or the simple gathering of family to camp, hike or picnic in one of southern California’s most popular state parks and most pristine habitats. As the result of our work with some surprising partners, that may indeed be possible for a long time to come.
Read the full terms of the settlement and the joint statement here
"A Moment of Peace" © Lynette Spence, taken at Prairie Creek Redwoods State Park.
California Voters Shape a Stronger Future for State Parks
While the presidential campaign captured the major headlines this week, up and down the state there were additional ballot decisions with significant impacts for parks, open space, wildlife and the environment.
Voter-Approved Tax on Recreational Marijuana Will Generate over $150 Million for State Parks and Wildlife
Proposition 64 was approved by the people of California, legalizing the recreational use of marijuana. Adults 21 and over will now legally be able to consume marijuana, and recreational marijuana will be regulated and taxed with revenue designated for various purposes including supporting California’s state parks.
Retail sales of recreational marijuana are expected to begin in the months leading up to January 1, 2018, when Proposition 64 is due to go into effect. The California Department of Finance has stated that tax on recreational marijuana sales could generate from “the high hundreds of millions of dollars to over $1 billion annually.” Twenty percent of the excise tax (one of two taxes established by Prop 64) will be set aside to create the Environmental Restoration and Protection Account, which will benefit California Departments of Parks and Recreation (DPR) and Fish and Wildlife. The projections for possible revenues to the Environmental Restoration and Protection Account have varied from $150 million to $230 million, ANNUALLY. In addition, Prop 64 stipulates that this funding has to be applied on top of the General Fund allocations that DPR and Fish and Wildlife receive.
Priority in the early years is on cleanup, remediation and restoration of the damage sustained from years of illegal marijuana cultivation on public lands and watersheds. Statewide, the National Forest Foundation estimates that tens of thousands of pounds of fertilizer, over 700 miles of irrigation lines, 4,800 gallons of insecticide, and 300 tons of garbage are deposited in California forests every year from detected and undetected illegal marijuana grows. In addition, illegal marijuana farms on public lands have dried up streams, killing fish and other animals. After the fund mitigates these impacts, the funding may be applied to stewardship of state parks and state-owned wildlife habitat lands.
CSPF will be working with policymakers and community of environmental organizations to advocate Environmental Restoration and Protection Account revenues be spent appropriately, and to ensure that this funding continues in addition to the General Fund allocations the DPR already receives.
Californians Vote to Permanently Ban Single-use Plastic Bags
Californians have voted to uphold the first-ever statewide ban on plastic bags that was passed by the Legislature and signed by Governor Brown back in 2014. The passage of Prop 67 will eliminate single-use plastic bags and is a common-sense solution to reduce plastic pollution in our parks, beaches and waterways.
CSPF supported Prop 67, and is pleased that California voters have recognized that prohibiting plastic grocery bags will reduce litter and waste and will positively impact California’s environment, including our parks, opens spaces and wildlife.
Los Angeles Voters Approve Much Needed Funding for Parks
We are pleased that Los Angeles voters have approved Measure A, which is estimated to raise $94 million annually to fund park development and maintenance. The Safe, Clean Neighborhood Parks, Open Space, Beaches, Rivers and Water Conservation Measure will replace the funds generated by Proposition A, which was first passed more than 20 years ago and is set to expire in 2019. The passage of Measure A will provide much needed support for local parks, beaches, open space, and water resources. This measure is a way to ensure that parks (including the state beaches currently operated by Los Angeles County) are adequately funded.
Unfortunate News for Sonoma County Parks
Unfortunately Measure J, the Sonoma County Regional Parks and Water Quality Improvement Measure, was supported by 63.8% of the vote — just falling short of the 66.6% (two-thirds majority) vote necessary to pass. CSPF was supportive of the proposed half-cent sales tax increase which would have generated an estimated $95 million over a 10-year term for Sonoma County parks. The impacts of this measure would have been tremendous — providing the county with funding to open an additional 1,000 acres of open space to the public and the funding for the county to assume management of Bodega Head and Shell Beach in order to prevent new day-use fees from being implemented.
Artwork by Katherine Espinoza, 1st Place winner in the age 7-8 category last year.
Calling All Youth Artists!
CSPF is inviting young artists to participate in our 2nd Annual Youth Art Contest, which is currently underway. This year’s theme is “Discover State Parks,” and we encourage youth ages 4-18 to participate! We want to see the artwork that shares artists' experiences in state parks and what they have discovered during their visits. These are some examples of experiences to get their creative juices flowing:
- What have you learned during a school field trip?
- What have you seen while taking a hike or walk?
- What have you felt during a visit to a state beach?
- What have you enjoyed during a camping trip?
- What do you hope to discover on your next trip to a state park?
There is so much to discover in state parks; the opportunities for inspiration are endless!
All entries need to be postmarked by December 17, 2016, with winners announced for each age category in January. Winning artwork will be displayed online, in print, and in venues throughout California in the spring of 2017.
Click here for more information and to download a 2016 CSPF Youth Art Contest entry form.
Volunteers planting native species at Los Angeles State Historic Park © Phoebe Oelheim.
Park Champions Are Making History at California State Historic Parks
Park Champions made history in October with our first workday at Los Angeles State Historic Park! Experienced Park Champions were joined by volunteers from the California Conservation Corps, Northeast Trees, and Latino Outdoors to plant 225 native species along the river banks before the redesigned park opens to the public in 2017. They dug in compacted, rocky soil to plant in the future wetlands section of the park. These plants will provide habitat and source of food for numerous bird and insect species, right in the heart of Chinatown!
Fall rains herald the beginning of the planting season in California and we need your help getting plants in the ground! Show your gratitude for state parks during this season of giving by volunteering at a Park Champions project. Our dedicated volunteers have planned many fun and impactful projects, and they would love to have your help. There is something for everyone who wants to get involved:
- Beautify the grounds and landscaping at Ed Z’berg Sugar Pine Point State Park (El Dorado)
- Clean and upgrade campgrounds at Picacho State Recreational Area (Imperial), Fremont Peak State Park (Monterey), China Camp State Park (Marin) or Henry Cowell Redwoods State Park (Santa Cruz)
- Restore trails by removing brush and improving the trails’ surface at Topanga State Park (Los Angeles), Chino Hills State Park (Orange, San Bernardino and Riverside) or Silverwood Lake State Recreation Area (San Bernardino)
- Plant trees, bushes and plants native to California to restore habitat at Candlestick Point State Recreation Area(San Francisco), Half Moon Bay State Beach (San Mateo), Rio de Los Angeles (Los Angeles) or Border Field State Park (San Diego)
- Remove invasive water hyacinth clogging the waterways at Folsom Lake State Recreation Area (El Dorado, Placer, Sacramento)
- Hike trails to remove large patches of iceplant from remote areas at Torrey Pines State Natural Reserve (San Diego)
- Build a new split rail fence at Cuyamaca Rancho State Park (San Diego) or new shade ramadas for school groups and picnickers at Salton Sea State Recreation Area (Riverside)
Choose the project that is right for you and get involved today! Click here to see a calendar and more descriptions of upcoming Park Champions projects, as well as a map of where they are located. Check out our Flickr page to see photos of what Park Champions are accomplishing at parks across the state!
"A Walk on a Rainy Day" © Julianne Bradford.
Photo of the Month
Congratulations, Julianne Bradford! Your photo from Carlsbad State Beach is this month’s winner! Visit our gallery to see more incredible photos of California state parks.
Thank you to our contest sponsor Lowepro!
Antelope Valley California Poppy Reserve © Little Koshka via Flickr.
Free State Park Admission for Veterans and Military Personnel on Veterans Day!
Don’t forget that Friday November 11, 2016 is Veterans Day and that means that 134 state parks are saying thank you by offering free admission to veterans and military personnel! See the Department of Parks and Recreation’s news release for details and spread the word!