August 2012 Parklands E-Newsletter

A Word From Our President

Yesterday, I testified before the Joint Legislative Audit Committee of the Legislature (JLAC) on the need for an independent audit to assess the "what," the "who" and the "why" regarding the recently revealed irregularities in two special funds at the California Department of Parks and Recreation (DPR). The JLAC passed the motion to conduct such an audit.

This audit, we hope, will go a long way to resolve the still unanswered questions about the two funds. In addition, we hope that the State Auditor will make some recommendations on how reporting to the public and the oversight agencies will ensure better accountability in the future.

Meanwhile, we continue to lobby the Legislature to allocate the $20.3 million in funding from the State Parks and Recreation Fund (SPRF) for use in state parks. As you may know, the governor put out a press release last Friday, which indicated that he was working with the Legislature to allocate the $20.3 million as leverage for the funds that have been raised to keep parks open. He also thanked all the donors statewide who have helped in the efforts to date. This was a very important signal to the Legislature, coming just before the two house budget committees commence their oversight hearings, the Assembly today and the Senate next week.

We will keep you posted as we hear more about the Legislative disposition towards the allocation of the $20.3 million to keeping parks open. We will be asking for your help soon in getting the message across to your legislative representative.

The news of the last few weeks has presented new challenges to our work here at CSPF. However, I want you to know how much your words of support for CSPF have meant to us. It is huge. Thanks!

Golden Poppy Award Gala Postponed

State park supporters felt a jolt in July when it was revealed that DPR had failed to disclose funds that could have been used to save state parks in crisis. In light of this, and upon careful consideration, CSPF's Board of Trustees has decided to postpone our Golden Poppy Award Gala. Originally scheduled for September 22, 2012, we expect to have a new date set soon in spring of 2013. Meanwhile, CSPF has intensified its focus on what it has always done well: keeping parks open, safe, and accessible to all. We look forward to celebrating with you the incredible efforts and hard-won successes of our community partners and generous supporters in a few months.

PORTS Programs Thrive During 2011-2012 School Year

Students in California are learning about state parks in a whole new way thanks to the Parks Online Resources for Teachers and Students (PORTS) program. This program uses the power of videoconferencing and California's K-12 High Speed Network (HSN) to deliver academic content programs to students from the field in our California state parks. Here are updates from two PORTS program areas:

PORTS Baldwin Hills Scenic Overlook
The PORTS at Baldwin Hills Scenic Overlook (BHSO) in L.A. finished its second successful year by exceeding our goal of student participation! During the 2011-2012 school year, the PORTS program succeeded in teaching 7,803 California students from 99 schools in 17 counties. A majority of those students hailed from Los Angeles County with 4,850 participating students. The Weather and Climate unit of study at BHSO is primarily aimed at 4th, 5th and 6th graders; but program staff accommodated all feasible requests from K-12 teachers. The students participated in 275 video presentations provided by Park Interpretive staff, utilizing the K-12 High Speed Network to deliver the presentations over the Internet. Park Interpreters taught lessons in front of a “green-screen” in a studio located inside the visitor center; and in the upcoming school year, the video presentations will also be delivered from various locations around the park through use of the BHATmobile (Baldwin Hills Advanced Technology).

Generously funded by the Toyota USA Foundation through a 3-year $558,000 grant and also through in-kind donations by Sony Pictures Entertainment, the PORTS BHSO studio represents one of the newest distance learning centers in the statewide PORTS network. Participating teachers were given comprehensive program training and a videoconference camera for the presentations. Over 400 teachers have completed the training since the BHSO program began in 2010. Teachers are able to schedule video presentations through ports.parks.ca.gov; the website also provides enhanced lesson plans. There is no cost to the teachers or schools to participate in the program. The 2011-2012 school year also marked the BHSO program's first full year of operation.

PORTS Anza-Borrego Desert State Park
At the PORTS Anza-Borrego Desert State Park learning center, an out-of-the-blue donation helped staff expand the program - resulting in 13,900 students participating for the 2011-2012 school year! With a generous $50,000 donation from the Employees Community Fund of Boeing California, and coupled with an SUV satellite truck donated by the Anza-Borrego Foundation, staff expanded the program by equipping the satellite truck with videoconference equipment and providing for two PORTS Interpreters. This allowed PORTS staff to roam the very large Anza-Borrego area, as well as the nearby Cuyamaca Rancho State Park, in the satellite truck and give presentations to students from very remote locations.

The statewide PORTS program is a collaborative effort between California State Parks and the California public school system that began in 2004 and now consists of eight learning centers. Each of the learning centers are managed both by the local state park district and the PORTS staff. CSPF is proud to be part of this innovative and progressive partnership and wishes the PORTS staff success in reaching their goals for 2012-2013. If you are interested in sponsorship opportunities with the PORTS program, please contact Marygrace Lopez, Program Manager, at marygrace@calparks.org.

CSPF Partners Support State Parks

AAA Supports CSPF through Summer Roadtrips
AAA Northern California has teamed up with CSPF to provide much-needed funding for our state parks. From July 1 through August 30, AAA Northern California’s Summer Roadtrips campaign will donate five dollars to CSPF for each AAA Insurance quote completed within a AAA branch office. Getting a quote is free. The money will help support the CSPF’s “Answer the Call” fundraising campaign.

You can help by visiting your local AAA branch and becoming a part of the AAA Summer Roadtrips campaign. Join us to spread awareness, increase visitors and raise money for our state parks!

PacSun Sponsors Instagram Donations for CSPF
We've partnered with PacSun to help support state parks through their Golden State of Mind campaign. Use Instagram to upload an image tagged with #gsom and #pacsuncalparks and PacSun will donate $1 to CSPF for each photo you tag! Plus, you can see each photo on their Golden State of Mind blog.

P.S. @CalParks is now on Instagram!

Volunteer this Summer with the Park Champions Program

Participate in valuable maintenance projects at our state parks with a fun and welcoming crew. Many upcoming workdays are appropriate for families. Please check the event description for the minimum age. Minors must be accompanied by a parent or legal guardian. Sign up to volunteer online.

UPCOMING WORK DAYS

Silver Strand State Beach, San Diego, Sat., Aug. 18, 9 a.m. to 1 p.m.:
Help us restore the natural ecosystem at Silver Strand. This workday will focus on invasive ice plant removal and native plant seed collection. This work is appropriate for ages 10 and up.

Baldwin Hills Scenic Overlook, Los Angeles, Tues., Aug. 21, 8 a.m. to 10:30 a.m.:
This workday will focus on removing invasive, non-native, plants to help restore the native ecosystem. This work is appropriate for anyone 10 years and up.

Candlestick Point State Recreation Area, San Francisco, Wed., Aug. 22, 9 a.m. to 2 p.m.:
This workday will focus on weeding and mulching in the community garden. This work is appropriate for ages 12 and up.

Rio de Los Angeles State Park, Sat., Los Angeles, Aug. 25, 8 a.m. to 10:30 a.m.:
This workday will focus on removing invasive, non-native, plants to help restore the native ecosystem. This work is appropriate for anyone 10 years and up.

Half Moon Bay State Beach, Santa Cruz, Tues., Aug. 28, 9 a.m. to 1 p.m.:
This family-friendly workday will focus on removing invasive plants to help restore the natural ecosystem. This work is suitable for ages 8 and up.

Portola Redwoods State Park, Santa Cruz, Thurs., Aug. 30, 9 a.m. to 1 p.m.:
This event will focus on repairing split rail fencing. This work is suitable for ages 16 and up.

San Juan Bautista State Historic Park, San Benito, Sat., Sept. 8, 9 a.m. to 1 p.m.:
This family-friendly workday will focus on making landscaping improvements to the Spanish Garden. This work is suitable for ages 8 and up.

Register to volunteer on our website. Once registered, you will be sent a confirmation email with other details. Registration is important so we can accurately plan for the day.

See a Sneak Peek Screening of "California Forever"

Join us for an early screening of the documentary "California Forever" on the big screen before it airs on PBS this fall. Screenings will take place on August 18 and 19 at the California Academy of Sciences in San Francisco, September 9 at the Smith Rafael Film Center in San Rafael, and September 13 at the Sibley Auditorium at UC Berkeley. Visit our film page for more information abou these screenings as well as upcoming PBS air dates.

Photo of the Month

Congratulations to photo contestant Chris Murdoch for winning the Photo of the Month for July! His photo, “Parting Shot at Sunset,” is a beautiful capture of soft sky and sea. Click here to see a larger version of Chris's photograph.

If you would like to win a Lowepro backpack, Chipotle gift card and a CSPF membership like Chris did, join our free photo contest today and compete for the honor of the next Photo of the Month!

Travel Tips from Weekend Sherpa

Holey Experience

In Santa Cruz the swimming holes are as abundant as the redwoods. You've just gotta know where to go. Hint: head for the redwoods down by the river. San Lorenzo River, that is. Here, short hiking trails lead to a few good options, including off-the-beaten-path Big Rock Hole tucked deep inside Henry Cowell Redwoods State Park. This hidden basin features—surprise!—a big rock, plus a tempting rope swing (just make sure there's enough water before you go showing off your Tarzan skills). Shrouded and shaded by big-leaf maples and coast redwood giants, this private hideaway also has a small sand beach, ideal for kicking back and shamelessly being a slug with a book and some bonbons. To get there, the simplest approach involves a moderately steep half-mile hike downhill, forging the riverbed, and crossing a redwood barrier to discover the basin on the other side. If you’re looking to tack on some miles, you can also reach Big Rock Hole from the Henry Cowell Redwoods State Park parking lot via a beefier 7- to 8-mile (round-trip) hike. Take a look at this map to craft your route. Despite popular myth, rangers warn that wearing your birthday suit at this lagoon is not an option, so don't get cheeky; keep the loincloths on for any Tarzan and Jane exploits. Ahahahaahahhhhhhhh!

For the easiest access to Big Rock Hole, pull out along Hwy. 9 at the Rincon Parking Lot, a free inlet on the side of the road about 3 miles south of the Henry Cowell Redwoods State Park main entrance. Then hike down the Rincon Road Trail about a half-mile to the San Lorenzo River. When you hit the bank, steer right past the "No Diving" sign, and cross the river. Continue on a footpath a few hundred yards downriver until you hit Big Rock Hole. Return the way you came. If you're hiking from the Visitors Center, paid parking is available for $10, located at 101 North Big Trees Rd. in Felton. No alcohol or dogs are permitted. Use the rope swing at your own risk.

Take the Weekend Sherpa Adventure Challenge
This summer, complete any three self-guided outdoor adventure stories from weekendsherpa.com and get a free Weekend Sherpa T-shirt (pictured) and $10 Gift Card from Sports Basement. Go to weekendsherpa.com to get started.