SONOMA – California State Parks Foundation (CSPF) today honored John Roney with the Grassroots Champion Award at its annual Park Advocacy Day in Sacramento. The award is bestowed only on occasion, to recognize and showcase extraordinary commitment and dedication by an individual to California’s state parks.
When Sugarloaf Ridge State Park sustained catastrophic damage from the wildfires that erupted in Sonoma County last October, John’s heroic efforts to ensure that campers, staff and nearby residents were safely evacuated proved his leadership and the strong link between state parks and their communities.
“I am so honored to receive this award and accept it on behalf of Sonoma Ecology Center and Sugarloaf Ridge State Park’s community of dedicated volunteers and visitors,” said Roney. “California State Parks Foundation has been a resolute champion and unflagging supporter of Sonoma Ecology Center and a critical partner in our work.”
Sugarloaf Ridge State Park reopened to the public on February 1, 2018 after being closed for four months due to damage and safety issues caused by the fire. With the added expense of rebuilding coupled by the loss of revenue during closure, the Sonoma Ecology Center had been raising funds to support the parks needs. Community members continue to pour into the park to volunteer, as demonstrated by work days and recent CSPF funded Earth Day activities. In response to this challenge, CSPF awarded the Sonoma Ecology Center a grant for $25,000 at Park Advocacy Day to support the fire recovery efforts.
“The California State Parks Foundation is a long-time proud partner of the Sonoma Ecology Center,” said Rachel Norton, CSPF Executive Director. “Sonoma Ecology Center shows up time and again for the community through robust operations of Sugarloaf Ridge State Park. We are proud to honor Park Manager John Roney for his remarkable actions the night of the catastrophic fire and to provide a grant of $25,000 to support the fire recovery work.”
John has served as park manager at Sugarloaf Ridge State Park since 2012, when he helped park operator, Sonoma Ecology Center, reopen the park amidst a crisis that threatened to close 70 state parks. He has since been a tireless advocate and protector of the treasured park and its visitors, focused on improving the visitor experience and ecological health of Sugarloaf Ridge. A man of service, John served in the U.S. Army and Army Reserve, where he retired as Colonel.
Today’s Park Advocacy Day convened park supporters and advocates from throughout California to spend the day meeting with legislators at the state’s capitol, voicing their support for policy that will protect and enhance state parks, and expand equitable access for all Californians. Critical issues facing the 280 state parks include youth access, park expansion, funding and environmental education.
ABOUT California State Parks Foundation (CSPF)
CSPF is a member-supported nonprofit dedicated to protecting, improving and advocating for all of California’s state parks. With our community of supporters, we deliver innovative solutions for an excellent parks system by facilitating park improvements, inspiring stewardship, supporting partners, advocating for sound policies and connecting people to parks. Together we ensure that the natural beauty, rich culture and history, and recreational and educational opportunities of our 280 state parks are available for all to enjoy now and for generations to come. For more information, visit www.calparks.org