September 2012 Parklands E-Newsletter

A Word From Our President

They always talk about March, the beginning of spring, coming in like a lion and going out like a lamb.

This year, politically speaking, it was the summer that came in like a lion; with lots of roaring and gnashing of teeth. But as the roaring is quieting down, the summer has come to its unofficial Labor Day close, and it is time to take stock.

We started the summer with some mildly encouraging news: 65 of the 70 state parks on the closure list had temporary reprieves from closure. The budget for 2012-13 carried some new funding to buy time for operating agreements to be finished. But what really made the difference were the efforts of park groups and individuals across the state who stepped up to fashion temporary reprieves for many of the parks. Of course, we did our part also with encouragement, counsel, and 26 operating grants to partners around the state totaling just over $800,000.

Then the terrible news hit: public funds that could, and should, have been applied to the state parks crisis had been "hidden" for 12 years. The lion reared its snarling head once again.

But it was CSPF that sprang in to action right away. We were clear with the Legislature and the governor that this was an unacceptable turn of events. We called for an investigation, an independent audit and the appropriation of the hidden funds for their originally intended purposes. Sacramento listened.

In early August the Joint Legislative Audit Committee authorized an independent audit by the State Auditor. That should be complete by the end of the year.

Late last Thursday, the Legislature passed two important state park bills. AB 1589 (Huffman) helps move state parks toward sustainability by providing a comprehensive and creative approach to searching for additional funding streams. AB 1478 (Blumenfield) is a budget trailer bill that will direct a portion of the hidden funds to state parks and establishes a two-year moratorium on closing state parks. Both bills are headed to the governor's desk. He has 30 days to sign or veto them. In the case of the budget trailer bill, he can "blue pencil" portions that contain appropriations, which would be akin to vetoing or reducing parts of the appropriations.

We hope you will help us request the governor's signature on AB 1478 in particular. You can send him a letter now.

At the end of summer, we find ourselves with many remaining mysteries about those hidden funds that hopefully the investigations and independent audit will clear up.

But perhaps the biggest challenge we are left with at the end of the summer of 2012 is one that will feel very familiar. Despite the ups and downs, the roaring and gnashing of teeth, the question remains: are state parks safe in any long term way? Unfortunately, the answer is no. The ongoing general fund appropriation for state parks is still two thirds of what it was four years ago. There is still a $1.3 billion deferred maintenance backlog. The system continues to be in dire need of assistance and repair.

Hardworking state parks staff are still being forced to stick and paste together a state parks system that deserves way better. Nonprofits, and local governments who have stepped up to help keep parks open, still have enormous challenges ahead of them. And all of us who won’t settle on a sub-par state parks system still have a ton of work to do to move the dial. Perhaps most importantly, all across the state citizens continue to encounter facilities that are not always open or up to snuff. Will we succeed in changing this picture? Only time will tell.

But make no mistake, we are not distracted by the lions. Moving forward, the fall brings us back in full focus to the things we must do as a community to ensure the longevity of state parks. From CSPF's new pilot Park Observation Program to technical assistance for all the organizations running parks, we are doing everything we can in the short and long-term to protect, enhance and advocate for our glorious state parks. Thanks for all your support!

Take the Defend What's Yours Challenge!

Have you signed up for the Defend What’s Yours Challenge yet? You have until September 30 to complete one of our challenge activities for each of the Top 5 Ways to Defend State Parks: Be a Defender, Visit, Volunteer, Speak Out and Share.

You’ll also receive one of our Defend What’s Yours Challenge kits, which includes a Challenge checklist, window decal and “Speak Out” shield to help you complete the challenge. And, as you complete Challenge activities, you also become eligible to win prizes.

Join the Defend What’s Yours Challenge today!

Register to Volunteer at Rescheduled Earth Day Event

Registration is now open! Join CSPF and the Malibu Creek docents on Saturday, October 20 from 9 a.m. to 1 p.m. at Malibu Creek State Park’s visitor center to complete the maintenance and beautification projects that were postponed due to the heavy rains preceding Earth Day 2012 (April 14). The Malibu Creek Docents have completed repainting the visitor center, but they’ll need up to 100 volunteers to help with the planting and weeding around the area.

For project details and to register, go to calparks.org/earthday. Once on the website, first click the "log-in" in the top right corner to log-in or create a free account, then click on the "Malibu Creek State Park" link to sign-up. You'll receive a confirmation email once you have registered.

Volunteers must sign-up before the event so park staff can have enough tools on site. Online registration closes on October 18 or when we reach 100 registered volunteers.

Malibu Creek State Park is located at 1925 Las Virgenes Road in Calabasas; and the Visitor Center is a 3/4-mile hike from the parking lots. There will be Malibu Creek docents to meet you in the parking lot and hike with you to the Visitor Center. There's also free parking for project volunteers. We encourage volunteers to check-in at 8:30 a.m. The projects start promptly at 9 a.m., with a boxed lunch around noon.

Thank you to Edison International, a long time supporter of CSPF's Earth Day Restoration and Cleanup program, for making this event possible.

Shop our Labor Day Sale

Our Labor Day Sale is still going, but it won't last long. Make sure you have everything you need to enjoy California’s state parks this fall season: shop in our online store this week and receive 25% off your favorite CSPF merchandise!

If you are a member, be sure to log in to automatically receive an additional 5% off at checkout!

Sale items include organic t-shirts made from soft and durable recycled cotton, CSPF Quail hoodies with certified organic cotton, and our super-soft, eco-friendly fleece vests. Other items on sale include baseball caps, grow cups, cotton aprons and more.

All of our store proceeds help support the work of CSPF and allow us to continue as Your Voice for Parks.

AAA Summer Road Trip Campaign a Success

We just completed a successful 2012 summer outreach campaign with AAA Northern California, providing a boost to our efforts to protect state parks. From July 1 through August 30, AAA Northern California's "Summer Road Trip" campaign donated five dollars to the CSPF for each AAA Insurance quote completed within a AAA branch office. The money will help support our "Answer the Call" campaign to safeguard, strengthen, and sustain parks through new models of excellence in the future. In addition to the insurance quotes, AAA launched a successful Facebook trivia game, "Roadology," to raise awareness of our natural resources and donate additional dollars on behalf of Northern California, Nevada and Utah communities.

We are extremely grateful to AAA for their partnership and generous donation to CSPF and all of you who participated in the AAA Summer Road Trip campaign and played "Roadology" on Facebook. Thank you!

Be the Eyes and Ears for State Parks

Later this month CSPF will launch a new program that will allow you – the park user – to be the eyes and ears of our state parks. Called the Park Observation Program (POP), this web-based program will let you report maintenance issues you find in state parks to our innovative new website. With California's state parks suffering from budget cuts and a $1.3 billion maintenance backlog, this program will give park staff extra resources and support in the field.

For example, maybe you are hiking in your favorite park and you come across some graffiti on a park bench. You can take a photo with your camera or smartphone and upload the photo and a description to POP from your smartphone, from the CalParks App, or from your computer when you get home. Issues like eroded trails, a fallen tree blocking the path, or a building that needs repairs are all observations that should be reported.

Information collected from the program will be recorded and shared with the park staff who will, in return, provide feedback to program participants on the outcome of their report. POP will start as a pilot program in the Santa Cruz district on September 17. It will be expanded throughout California over time, and will amass a valuable store of information about the state of our state parks. Stayed tuned for more information coming soon!

California Forever Airing on PBS

The much-anticipated documentary "California Forever," a two-part documentary about state parks, has begun airing on PBS stations across the country.

Find out when you can catch "California Forever" from your couch at cal4ever.com. Then, get out there and visit a park!

Volunteer with the Park Champions Program

Celebrate the cooler temperatures and beautiful colors of fall by volunteering with the Park Champions Program. We have autumn events at many parks that were too hot or too crowded for work projects during the summer. This is a great way to discover new parks; some workdays include free camping for registered volunteers (see below).

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

San Juan Bautista Historic Park, San Benito, Saturday, 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.

Candlestick Point State Recreation Area, San Francisco, Thursday, Sept. 13, 9 a.m. to 2 p.m.
This workday will focus on tree trimming, painting gates and windbreaks, and installing fence posts. This work is appropriate for ages 14 and up.

Baldwin Hills Scenic Overlook, Los Angeles, Tuesday, Sept. 18, 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. Families welcome!

Rio de Los Angeles State Park, Los Angeles, Saturday, Sept. 22, 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. Families welcome!

Candlestick State Recreation Area, San Francisco, Saturday, Sept. 22, 9 a.m. to 1 p.m.
This workday will assist Literacy for Environmental Justice with planting native plants in Yosemite Slough, the largest tidal wetland in San Francisco. This work is appropriate for ages 14 and up.

Carpinteria State Beach, Santa Barbara, Saturday, Oct. 13, 9 a.m. to 1 p.m.
The workday will focus on repairing sea weathered wooden screens and removing invasive plants. Volunteers over age 12 are welcome with a legal guardian. Free camping is available for pre-registered volunteers!

Salton Sea, Riverside, Friday & Saturday, Nov. 2 & 3, 9 a.m. to 1 p.m.
This two-day project will focus on repairing and improving the Ironwood Trail, a special desert interpretive trail. This work is suitable for ages 16 and up. Free camping is available for pre-registered volunteers!

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.

Save the Date

The Golden Poppy Awards Gala has been rescheduled for Saturday, June 8, 2013. An evening of inspiration and appreciation, the gala will be celebrated under the stars at Will Rogers State Historic Park in Pacific Palisades.

For information about sponsorship opportunities and ticket sales, please contact Martha Henderson at martha@calparks.org.

Photo of the Month

Congratulations to photo contestant Vincent James for winning the Photo of the Month for August! His photo, "Summer Morning Color," shows Garrapata State Park in all its colorful glory. Click here to see a larger version of Vincent's photograph.

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

Thank you to our contest sponsors Lowepro and Chipotle!

Travel Tips from Weekend Sherpa

Keeping your summertime cool comes easily on a 1.3-mile (round-trip) stroll through Baldwin Hills’ Kenneth Hahn State Recreation Area. Bench-hop among a trio of yellow-roofed pavilions and soak up some shade while enjoying views of the LA Basin and San Gabriel Mountains.

Start with a little trailhead Zen at the Japanese gardens. Pass beneath an ornate gate and alongside a pond decorated in lily pads and red-painted arcing wood bridges. Head north on the paved path to reach a totally artificial—yet entirely refreshing—10-foot waterfall. Beyond, a dirt path heads up to the first pavilion, Christine’s Point. Have a seat and look down over Culver City, then wander south through a eucalyptus grove and further up the ridge to connect two more pavilions. The scene west of the park is covered with churning oil derricks, so you’re better off setting your sights toward the dramatic skyline of downtown LA, framed by the San Gabriels. Good things come in threes.

Kenneth Hahn SRA is located at 4100 South La Cienega Blvd. (map). Entry is free on weekdays, but $6 per vehicle on weekends and holidays. Just past the gate, turn left and drive to the end of the lot where you will find the Japanese gardens. Hike through the gardens to a dirt trail that switches up the ridge to a junction just east to Christine’s Point. Turn right for the first pavilion and left for the other two. The park is open from sunrise to sunset. Dog-friendly!

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.