May 2012 Parklands E-Newsletter

A Word From Our President

As of this writing, we are 58 days from July 1 and the closing of state parks for the first time in California’s history. There is some good news despite this rapidly approaching deadline … for instance, fifteen closing parks have reprieves so far and there are many more in the pipeline. However, there is a lot of ambiguity as well, with uncertainty about which of those partnership plans in the pipeline will emerge successfully. And then there is the bad news … the service impacts in “open” parks that continue to pile up. For example, Fort Ross, which is celebrating its 200th anniversary this year, is not on the closure list, but it is only open 3 days a week during what should be its most exciting year in a long time! And Fort Ross is not alone.

We at CSPF are very excited to be helping get some of the parks that have proposals to in the pipeline get to the finish line. We have received a number of fabulous gifts, especially from the S.D. Bechtel, Jr. Foundation and the Thomas J. Long Foundation, to create a Park Operating Grants program. These grants will provide funding to some of those non-profit organizations that are stepping up to keep a park open. We have received strong proposals and look forward to announcing the first round of successful grantees in mid-May.

We have also made some direct grants to DPR or to other organizations, like the Olmsted Fund, that are raising money to support state parks. As a result Jug Handle State Reserve and Santa Susanna Pass State Historic Park will both remain open. Stay tuned for announcements about a few others in the coming weeks.

We are also deploying technical assistance to organizations across the state through legal assistance and operating planning consulting. We can’t thank Paul Hastings and Randy Widera enough for throwing their lot in with us to provide support for the non-profits doing the heavy lifting in the field.

This is a very uncertain period but we have confidence that between the efforts of DPR and the broad parks community that we will succeed in minimizing the closures. The question that remains is what is our long term solution? As we work hard to support the strong efforts out there to keep parks open, I am constantly wondering if the glass is half empty, with 35 parks headed to closure, or half full, with 35 parks kept open. One thing is clear; this moment has not produced sustainable solutions. We must remain vigilant in that quest for a long term sustainable public funding solution for our glorious state parks. We have new allies in our quest, including the more than 200 businesses, large and small who have signed onto our “Closing Parks is Bad for Business” letter to the Governor. We need many more allies if we are going to be successful in securing a more stable funding environment for state parks.

Thanks for all your support as we shoulder through this uncertain moment to a better future.

Watch Movies to Save State Parks!

If you love state parks (obviously) and Pirates of the Caribbean (who doesn’t?) then you won’t want to miss our ParkFilm Fest this Saturday.

Not only can you watch a three-part Pirates of the Caribbean movie marathon on the big screen at Paramount Studios’ Bronson Theater in LA, but you can also meet the real pirate actors between films!

Other fun highlights will include: walking the red carpet, free popcorn, pirate booty, green screen photos, food truck, cash bar, autographs and Q&A with six Pirates cast members, and Paramount tram tours for those who buy package tickets.

The best part of all? Proceeds from the event go to CSPF to help offset severe state budget cuts that threaten all California state parks.

So join us and the Environmental Media Association (EMA) at our day-long ParkFilm Fest this Saturday at the Bronson Theatre in Paramount Studios!

Visit our website now to get your tickets. Tickets will also be available at the door. See you there!

Thank you to our Diamond Plus Sponsor Toyota, our Diamond Sponsor Disney and our partner Environmental Media Association. To become a sponsor please contact Davida Hartman at 415-262-4403.

Earth Day 2012 Results are In: Environmental Improvements Made at 17 Parks!

Nearly 2,000 volunteers spent the better part of April 14 digging in the dirt, installing drip irrigation, restoring historic structures and renovating campgrounds as part of the California State Parks Foundation's 15th Annual Earth Day Restoration and Cleanup presented by PG&E.

Photos and results are posted on our website.

This year, volunteers planted 1,834 native plants and trees, removed 271 bags of trash and recyclables, restored miles of trails and removed thousands of non-native plants from parklands. Bale Grist Mill State Historic Park in St. Helena now has a functioning water wheel; Candlestick Point State Recreation Area in San Francisco has new community garden boxes; Rio de Los Angeles State Park in downtown L.A. has new trees in the wetlands area; Auburn State Recreation Area has a new Shade Shelter and cleaner rivers; and Millerton Lake State Recreation Area in Fresno has a refurbished campfire center. These and the many other long overdue projects would not have been possible without our incredible volunteers' support and participation. And it was also a triumph for CSPF’s first-ever Earth Day Food Drive! At 8 select locations, Earth Day volunteers brought with them and donated over 1,100 pounds of canned and boxed food for the benefit of local area food banks.

Special appreciation goes to our longtime Presenting Sponsor Pacific Gas and Electric Company; Associate Sponsors Edison International, Chevron and Oracle; and Grant Provider Virgin America. Thank you to our in-kind donors Chipotle Mexican Grill, Two Degrees Food Re:newal Premium Spring Water, Big Daddy’s Pizza, and Top Grade Construction, plus the many individual Starbucks Coffee and Peet’s Coffee stores. And thank you very much to all the volunteers, young and old, for making Earth Day 2012 a resounding success!

Films about California State Parks

California Forever and The First 70 are both must-watch films that focus on California’s amazing state parks and the crisis before us.

California Forever

Filmmakers David Vassar and Sally Kaplan of Backcountry Pictures have created a beautiful and important documentary called California Forever: The Story of California state parks. This two-episode television documentary will air on PBS stations this fall. The film highlights the history of California state parks through an inspiring account of the struggles and achievements that built the system, and also examines the challenges parks face now and into the future.

The First 70

The First 70 highlights the wonders and issues surrounding the 70 state parks slated to close on July 1. Follow filmmakers Lauren Valentino, Jarratt Moody and Cory Brown of Heath Hen Films as they travel across the state in a really cool bus, to visit all 70 state parks and capture the parks’ endless beauty in images and interviews with those who love and care for them.

On Tuesday, CSPF hosted a screening of the film at the historic Crest Theater in Sacramento. Over 300 people attended the free screening, enjoyed popcorn and soda, and participated in a lively Q&A with the filmmakers after the film.

CSPF is proud to be part of both of these projects. Keep on the lookout for upcoming screenings across the state.

Volunteer in a State Park Near You

If you haven’t participated in our Park Champions volunteer program yet, now is the time to try! Become a volunteer, invest your time and energy to helping our state parks, and have fun while you are at it! Sign up to volunteer online.

The following work projects are appropriate for anyone 14 years and older. Anyone under 18 must be accompanied by a legal guardian.

May 5, 9 a.m. to 1 p.m., Portola Redwoods, San Mateo:
This work day will focus on repairing fencing and picnic tables in the campground. Free camping is available for volunteers on Friday and Saturday.

May 10, 9 a.m. to 2 p.m., Candlestick Point, San Francisco County:
This work day will focus on improvements to the Pelican picnic area, including brush removal and tree trimming.

May 11, 9 a.m. to 1 p.m., Carpentaria State Beach, Santa Barbara County:
This work day will focus on repairing sea weathered wooden screens.

May 26, 9 a.m. to 1 p.m., Chino Hills, Inland Empire:
This work day will focus on trail improvements.

June 1, 9 a.m. to 1 p.m., China Camp, Marin County:
Our first project at China Camp will focus on repairing the fencing on the Bayview Trail. This work is suitable for volunteers over 18 years of age.

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.

Note to Our Members

You may have heard that on May 1 the Department of Parks and Recreation increased the cost of Annual Passes from $125 to $195.

Because of this increase, CSPF will also be changing our membership levels and benefits. Our Frequent Visitor level at $125 will now have 14 Day Use Passes. The Touring Member level will increase from $175 to $195 and will still include the Annual Pass.

Capital Group’s Earth Day at Doheny last Saturday

The Capital Group, a long-time sponsor of CSPF’s Park Champions Program, turned out in force to help clean up and beautify Doheny State Beach in Orange County, California.

April 21st was Earth Day, and nearly 200 Capital Group volunteers enthusiastically weeded, mulched, planted native plants, cleaned up the beach, and painted beach ramadas as part of a special Park Champions work day. Many came accompanied by family and friends, making this an extremely congenial day, with good spirits and hard work everywhere in the park, as people in blue Capital Group t-shirts spread out to do their work. Children particularly enjoyed digging holes for new plants! A big shout-out to all of these dedicated employees, and to the park staff who helped organize this event – thank you to everyone. As a result of the day’s work, Doheny State Beach is much improved for the future.

CSPF Photo Contest

Congratulations to photo contestant Aaron Meyers for winning the Photo of the Month for April! He patiently waited for the sunset at Pfeiffer Big Sur State Park, and it paid off when he captured this “Spotlight” shining through the Pfeiffer Arch. Click here to see a larger version of Aaron’s photograph.

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

Travel Tips from Weekend Sherpa

Full on Lobos

It's been called the greatest meeting of land and water in the world. Point Lobos State Natural Reserve, just 2 miles south of Carmel, marks the unofficial northern border of Big Sur. And what a start it is! Rough-and-tumble headlands, huge jagged rocks amidst rollicking waves, quiet beach enclaves, and tranquil turquoise coves make this old whaling station an explorer's paradise. Wildlife includes seals and their pups, birds of all feathers (cormorants and oystercatchers, to name a few), and charming sea otters. Most visitors make Point Lobos a park 'n' picnic destination, but they're missing out on the full Lobos. To really experience the reserve, do a 5-mile grand-tour loop. Walk the cypress-lined coastal trail, observing multiple tide pools swirling with the ocean's ebb and flow; to get the full flavor of the area, take small detours to untrammeled coves like "The Pit" (pictured) and rugged promontories. Point well taken.

OUTDOOR EATS:The fact that Clint Eastwood owns Mission Ranch in Carmel may be its claim to fame, but this ruggedly stylish 22-acre resort has way more than just Hollywood good looks. Enjoy fresh American fare on the restaurant's outdoor patio. It's got some of Carmel's best coastal views, with meadows, wetlands, and Carmel River Beach as scene-stealers. In the foreground, a white picket fence frames a pasture with grazing sheep.

TIP:Mission Ranch's sprawling, down-to-earth grounds make a relaxing place for an overnight escape. The resort has 31 charming and unfussy rooms, with some in a restored historic farmhouse and others as private cottages on the grounds.

Point Lobos State Natural Reserve: Visit their Web site for directions. Pay $10 at the entrance station and continue past the first big parking area to the final parking area. Park there. Take the Bird Island Trail south toward China Cove, then turn left (north) onto the South Plateau Trail back to the entrance station. Cross the reserve road and continue on Carmelo Meadow Trail. Go right at Granite Point Trail to make a side trip to The Pit and Granite Point before continuing west on Granite Point Trail toward the old Whalers Cabin. Continue on the North Shore and South Shore Trail with optional side trips to Allan Memorial Grove and Sea Lion Point. No dogs. Mission Ranch, 26270 Dolores St., Carmel; 831-624-6436. Rooms start at $120.

Sign up for weekly travel tips emailed every Thursday at

Bonus Tip for Members: Camping reservations are open for November 2012. Don't forget to get up to 10% off your camping reservation by booking your campsite through CSPF.