Everywhere I have traveled in the last few weeks and months, I have had the pleasure to meet inspired people who are working to prevent parks from closing. Sometimes, they have a carefully thought out plan. Sometimes, they are just beginning to sort out their direction. But in almost all cases, the passion for a particular park on the closure list is palpable.
The question for all of us as a community is how we do things we have never done before, really, really well. And when I talk about the community, I mean everyone from the embattled state parks department staff, who despite impending lay-offs are trying to ensure the places they have stewarded for so long are protected, to non-profits and concessionaires, who are being challenged to take on more than ever before in very difficult circumstances.
There is no easy formula for how we will succeed. Nor is there a roadmap to avoid (dare I mention the possibility) failure. But the work before us demands a village, or should I say state. As I have talked to folks inside the department and in the non-profit community, I think it is fair to say, we are not feeling like the cart is being pulled forward evenly. We all feel that way. We are all on a rocky road we have never traveled before and which we didn't ask for; in fact, we fought against it for a long time.
The strength of our commitment to preserving these extraordinary places will have to be what gets over the bumps. We are all on the same side even if it feels like we are speaking different languages, and sometimes we truly are!
But I have a lot of hope that despite the needs for occasional translators, we are going to try some things that ultimately will deserve to be replicated. Necessity is after all, the mother of invention. And invent we must.
I was part of a panel on state parks closures in Nevada City a few weeks ago. The Nevada City folks are understandably concerned about protecting South Yuba River State Park and Malakoff Diggins State Historic Park, both on the closure list. It was a fascinating discussion because the beginning of a reopening plan is beginning to emerge there. The county and California State Parks are working on a way to create a substantial increase in paid parking. This new revenue will leave a gap that has to be filled somehow but that has given the South Yuba River Citizens League (SYRCL) enough to start with. Meanwhile they have gathered a whopping 8,500 signatures for a petition to the governor. Their amazing Wild and Scenic Film Festival took a great community signature campaign and popped it right through the roof!
I had a chance to hike a little of the South Yuba River that weekend. Wow, is that a gorgeous park. I was blown away, even in the depths of a dry winter, by what a wonderful place it is. Put it on your list if you haven't been there yet!
Enjoy a park near you soon ...
Over 100 park supporters have already registered to participate in CSPF's 10th Annual Park Advocacy Day taking place on Tuesday, March 20 in Sacramento. Are you planning to join us?
Participating in Park Advocacy Day is a fun and meaningful way to positively influence the policies and legislative changes that affect state parks. It's also an opportunity to educate policymakers as they make important decisions that impact California's state park system.
There is no cost to participate in Park Advocacy Day, although we do require each participant to register before Feb. 23 and complete an online training session prior to the event.
To learn more about Park Advocacy Day or to register, please visit our website or call our Sacramento office at 916-442-2119.
Bale Grist Mill State Historic Park's water wheels will be restored. The main path at Folsom Powerhouse will be made ADA-compliant. Mt. Diablo's and Malibu Creek's Visitor Centers will be refurbished. And Dockweiler State Beach's lifeguard towers will receive a long overdue painting. These are among the projects that will be completed by volunteers and sponsors during CSPF's 15th Annual Earth Day Restoration & Cleanup presented by Pacific Gas and Electric Company (PG&E).
Volunteers are needed on Saturday, April 14, 2012 beginning at 8:30 a.m. Visit our website for a complete list of volunteer sites and times. Individuals, groups or businesses interested in volunteering should register online at calparks.org or call 1-888-98-PARKS.
To celebrate our 15th Annual Earth Day, CSPF is providing grants up to $15,000 (a combination of cash grants and in-kind donations) to parks, allowing for larger renovation and repair projects that have been on maintenance backlog. California state parks need your help for this annual event, especially at a time when continued budget cuts significantly delay or eliminate environmental improvement and maintenance projects. Volunteers are sought to actively participate in their communities to help restore the beauty of California's treasured state parks.
Since its inception in 1998, CSPF's Earth Day Restoration & Cleanup program has recruited 76,401 participants who contributed 318,606 volunteer hours worth nearly $6.1 million in park maintenance and improvements. More than $4 million has been raised for the program since it began. Major sponsors this year include PG&E, Edison International and Chevron; in-kind donors include Chipotle, Two Degrees Food and Renewal Premium Spring Water.
Thank you for the great response to our new Defend What's Yours campaign! In case you missed the launch, this public awareness effort aims to stop the closure of state parks by helping citizens to be aware, informed and engaged.
Visit our website to learn more about the Defend What's Yours campaign.
As part of the campaign, we unveiled a new series of television public service announcements (PSAs) to air on television stations statewide. Please be sure to watch the videos and share them with your friends and family.
Other ways to get involved include: becoming a defender, signing the petition to Gov. Brown, spreading the word on Facebook or Twitter, and more.
Visit the Defend What's Yours page now to get involved. Together we can spread this important message and build a movement to save our state parks.
Ahoy, mateys! Please save the date for our Park Film Fest on Saturday, May 5 to be held at Paramount Studios in Burbank. Bring family and friends to watch the first three Pirates of the Caribbean films, get a tour of the studio, enjoy face-painting and other treats, and know you are helping to raise money to keep our beloved parks open and accessible. And come dressed as your favorite Pirates character for extra fun! Hope to see you there. Call Davida Hartman at 415-262-4403 for more information about tickets and sponsorships.
The Parks Online Resources for Teachers and Students (PORTS) program is flourishing in its second year at Baldwin Hills Scenic Overlook, in southwest Los Angeles. As of this writing, over 2,600 local students have participated in science programs, which focus on Weather and Climate. At the core of the program is its technology: providing interaction between trained Park Interpreters and Rangers and elementary and high school students through videoconferencing in the PORTS studio. In addition to the studio, there is also a roving "BHATmobile" (Baldwin Hills Advanced Technology), a high-tech electric golf cart tricked out with equipment to allow program presentations from the field. There are also teacher training workshops and enhanced science curriculum. It's a virtual field trip!
This endeavor would not be possible without the generosity of the Toyota USA Foundation, who provided a 3-year, $558,000 grant to establish the new PORTS studio and produce programs for the local school districts, with a primary focus on the Los Angeles Unified School District. Through the dedication and tenacity of the PORTS staff, and through state budget cuts and staff reductions encountered in the first year, they have been able to build a world-class education center, on par with the eight other PORTS studios located statewide. California State Parks Foundation is proud to partner with PORTS to continue this innovative and indispensable educational program. If you are a teacher and would like to have your class participate, please visit PORTS online to register.
February is a busy month for CSPF's Park Champions Program, with 8 volunteer work days spanning across the state. Scan the projects from across the state and sign up for one near you. We need your help, volunteers!
Upcoming Volunteer Dates
February 5, 9am-1pm, Montana de Oro State Park, Morro Bay
This is a great way to start off your Superbowl Sunday! In partnership with local group CCCMB, work will focus on trail improvements throughout the park.
Feb 8, 9am-2pm, Candlestick Point SRA, San Francisco
This work day will focus on tree trimming and brush clearance near the park entrance.
Feb 18, 9am-1pm, Baldwin Hills Scenic Overlook, Los Angeles
In partnership with Generation Water and Mujeres de la Tierra, this work day will focus on native plant habitat restoration.
Feb 18, 9am-2pm, Olompali State Historic Park, San Francisco Bay Area
This first Park Champions event at Olompali will focus on cleaning and organizing the interior of the historic barn.
Feb 19, 9am-2pm, Chino Hills State Park, Inland Empire
This work day will focus on trail repairs to the Easy Street trail.
Feb 22, 9am-2pm, Candlestick Point SRA, San Francisco
This work day will focus on mulching paths in the community garden.
Feb 25, 9am-1pm, Burleigh Murray Ranch, Half Moon Bay
Under expert horticultural guidance, volunteers will prune fruit and nut trees in the historic orchard and clear brambly undergrowth.
Feb 27, Rio de Los Angeles, Los Angeles
Volunteers will restore native plantings in the artist bench area.
Hope you can join us for one of these upcoming events! To register for a work day, visit our website. By clicking on the date/time details, you will access an online registration page. Once registered, you will be sent a confirmation email with other details. Registration is important so we can accurately plan for the day. Volunteers are much needed and appreciated.
Fort Ross State Historic Park celebrates its bicentennial this year with a year-long celebration! Following on the heels of CSPF’s successful Russian Hidden Stories Conference last September, the Fort Ross Interpretive Association is producing many cultural and educational events throughout 2012 at Fort Ross.
Please visit their website for a calendar of events.
Congratulations to photo contestant Adam Jewell for winning the Photo of the Month for January. His fiery image from Mono Lake Tufa State Reserve stopped us in our tracks. Such great color! Click here to see a larger version of Adam's photograph.
If you would like to win a Lowepro backpack, credits from Adolph Gassers, and CSPF membership like Adam did, join our free photo contest today and compete for the honor of the next Photo of the Month.
Downtown Delights: Overlooking the ocean, with white picket fences, tidy gardens, wide sidewalks, and wooden water towers, Mendocino mixes a starched New England style with the breezy soul of California. The 15-minute stroll from one end of town to the other is the best way to get acquainted with this friendly place. Grab a coffee and fresh bialy -- an unboiled bagel with no hole -- at the Mendocino Bakery, then meander Main Street for window-shopping on one side and huge ocean views on the other. It's easy to while away an hour at the Gallery Bookshop, the town's intellectual hub and home to an impressive selection of books.
Sunset Bonus: Surrounding the town on three sides is Mendocino Headlands State Park. Trails leave right from town and curve along the dramatic coastal bluffs, leading to a blowhole, a beach, and outcroppings with unforgettable views. Catch a sunset here, when the waves are transformed into a tangerine oasis and the town behind you looks like an old postcard photo painted in perfect indigo light.
Green Dream: This is the North Coast, where rain and fog keep the greenery moist and the leaves looking velvety lush. See it for yourself on Mendocino's prized Fern Canyon Trail in Russian Gulch State Park, where the creeks bustle and the air smells like fresh mint pines. Hike for 2.5 miles along Russian Gulch Creek, through a steep canyon blanketed with ferns, passing second-growth redwoods and ancient tree stumps to a 36-foot waterfall. At the base of the cascade, walk out on a fallen redwood log for the King Kong of the Jungle photo op.
Russian Gulch State Park is 2 miles north of Mendocino on Hwy 1. To reach the Fern Canyon trailhead, drive east through the campground all the way to the end of the road.
Sign up for weekly travel tips emailed every Thursday at weekendsherpa.com.
Bonus Tip for Members: Camping reservations are open for August 2012. Don't forget to get up to 10% off your camping reservation by booking your campsite through CSPF.