April 2013 Parklands E-Newsletter

A Word From Our President

The Little Hoover Commission issued its report on California state parks last week titled “Beyond Crisis: Recapturing Excellence in California's State Park System.” A year in the making, the report is as direct a call for action as you could imagine from a governmental agency. There are many interesting recommendations in the report. (You will find a detailed story about the report’s findings further along in this newsletter.)

I’ve received several inquiries from folks across the nation about the Little Hoover Commission report. There is still a strong perception that California remains a trend setter in state parks, so the recommendations of the report are being scrutinized as a bellwether for other states.

I’ve also received questions about what new models of management and revenue generation are developing here that might have legs in other places and which ones are not doing so well. I have had inquiries about which of the recommendations are most likely to be implemented and which ones will likely be passed over.

This is ironic because for many years I have been arguing that California needs to look to other regions of the country, and beyond, to find models for change. Both of these concepts are true, of course—the need for creativity at home and the need to learn lessons from beyond our state. California does represent the testing ground for many new ideas and maybe more important the test of the scalability of those ideas. It is this latter concept that I have affirmed for a long time.

As I said in my testimony before the Little Hoover Commission over a year ago, we are in the midst of a fundamental shift for our nearly 150-year-old state parks system where, frankly, the full implications and consequences aren’t yet clear. The California state parks system is at an inflection point where experimentation of all kinds is vital to finding the way forward.

The national scrutiny is a reminder to all of us that the actions we take to solve our state park problems in California will have lasting consequences and ones that will go far beyond the state’s boundaries.

We are so thankful for your commitment to California state parks. We count on you to uphold our collective optimism that things will indeed get better, if we all work to protect, enhance and advocate for these glorious places.

Elizabeth Goldstein
President, CSPF

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Last Chance to Volunteer with us on Earth Day!

This week is your last chance to volunteer in a state park for Earth Day ... and there are still spots available at:

  • Auburn State Recreation Area in Placer County
  • Benicia State Recreation Area in Solano County
  • Doheny State Beach and San Clemente State Beach in Orange County
  • San Onofre State Beach in San Diego County
  • Jack London State Historic Park and Sonoma Coast State Beach in Sonoma County
  • Mt. Tamalpais State Park in Marin County
  • Patrick’s Point State Park in Humboldt County
  • Picacho State Recreation Area in Imperial County

CSPF's 16th Annual Earth Day Restoration and Cleanup presented by Pacific Gas and Electric Company will take place Saturday, April 13 from 9 a.m. to 1 p.m. at 24 select state parks across California. We need volunteers to help complete environmental improvement projects such as trail maintenance, fence building, weeding and campfire center improvements.

Registration closes April 8 – so sign up today. All volunteers must pre-register online.

Thank you to all our sponsors for making this event possible: Pacific Gas and Electric Company, Edison International, Chevron, Oracle, Southern California Gas Company, and Virgin America; and refreshment providers Chipotle Mexican Grill, KIND Healthy Snacks, Noah’s NY Bagels, Peet’s Coffee and Tea and Starbucks Coffee.

New Report Recommends Changes to Achieve Excellence in State Parks

On March 25, the Little Hoover Commission released its long-awaited report on parks: “Beyond Crisis: Recapturing Excellence in California's State Park System.”

The Little Hoover Commission is a 13-member, independent state commission appointed by the governor and Legislature, with a specific charge to investigate state government operations and recommend changes to state programs to promote efficiency, economy and improved service. As we have discussed in previous newsletter articles, this independent state commission began its inquiry and review of the status of the state parks system over a year ago, after the park closure list had been announced.

The report is not simply an assessment of the proposed park closures. The Commission’s year-long review took a wide-ranging look at the structure, function, and capacity of our parks system, largely through a lens of the Department of Parks and Recreation (DPR). This was a lengthy process which included many hearings and interviews, and CSPF staff testified several times in public hearings and in subcommittee meetings before the Commission. The resulting report is very thorough and consistent with a number of observations and recommendations that we at CSPF have made for years regarding our state parks system. In many ways, we find the call for a new vision for parks and several of the other recommendations very consistent with our 2011 report: “A Vision for Excellence for California State Parks.”

Highlights of the top level recommendations in the report include:

  • Develop a new statewide vision for DPR that reflects a role of partnership with other agencies, nonprofit organizations, and groups.
  • Undertake a public process to assess which parks should remain under state ownership, which ones largely benefit local needs, and the right mix of management options for each park.
  • Establish a management model that reflects a more enterprise-based operational approach that serves the mission of protecting resources and promoting public access.
  • Commit General Fund support to DPR that is matched to the scope of parks under management by DPR.
  • Develop incentives and performance measures reported in annual performance reports.
  • Provide state flexibility to hire and promote a range of employees within DPR who have the necessary skill sets for implementing a new operating model.

CSPF agrees with the commission’s top-level recommendations, and looks forward to working with the Legislature, the State Parks and Recreation Commission, DPR, the Little Hoover Commission, and many other stakeholders to re-envision a future of excellence for our state parks.

Stardust Soirée: The 2013 Golden Poppy Awards Gala

The Golden Poppy Awards Gala will be held on June 8 at Will Rogers State Historic Park in Pacific Palisades. This elegant evening under the stars will honor extraordinary environmental leaders whose commitments have helped ensure that state parks continue to provide adventure, renewal and inspiration to all Californians. The Golden Poppy Awards Gala raises funds to support CSPF's important policy work, public education and environmental programming to improve, enhance, and sustain California's magnificent state parks system.

Please consider purchasing tickets or sponsoring a table for this important and beneficial event!

To purchase tickets or for more information, please visit our website or contact Martha Henderson at (415) 262-4404 or martha@calparks.org.

Support Parks by Shopping in Our New Store

We are very excited to announce the launch of our NEW online store with a fresh design and lots of new products!

Check out our new lines of women’s, men’s and youth clothing including Columbia jackets and Lands' End polo shirts. Don’t forget to view the Limited Edition section for items you can’t find anywhere else, like a vintage backpack perfect for hiking or the Mission Mills Olive Oil that was pressed in a state park.

And the best part is that shopping in our store is a fun way to help CSPF, because profits from the store support our work protecting and enhancing state parks.

CSPF members receive a special 5% discount on their store purchases. If you aren’t a member, you can join today and immediately get the 5% discount. Shop in April and get a free CSPF 2013 calendar with your order of $25 or more.

So check out our new store today and feel good about shopping!

Volunteer with the Park Champions Program

Celebrate spring with a little spring cleaning at many of your favorite state parks! Park Champions has April spring cleaning projects at Colonel Allensworth, Candlestick Point, and our first workday at Standish Hickey. We will continue our intensive habitat restoration and planting projects at Half Moon Bay, Silver Strand, and Yosemite Slough.

Please visit our website for a calendar of upcoming workdays and our Flikr page for examples of Park Champions in action! Hope to see you at a workday soon.

Successful Park Advocacy Day

On March 12, 200 park advocates gathered in Sacramento to participate in our 11th Annual Park Advocacy Day – our biggest turnout ever!

Participants dedicated an entire day to meeting with policymakers at the Capitol to discuss state parks-related legislation and budget issues. These meetings have a lasting impact on legislators as they make important decisions about state park protection and the funding of California's state parks system. For a list of legislation park advocates discussed with their representative please go here.

Thank you to everyone who came to support state parks!


During Park Advocacy Day, CSPF held a luncheon to honor our 2013 Grassroots Champion Award recipient, Heath Hen Films, for its work producing the documentary The First 70 about closing 70 state parks. The Grassroots Champion Award recognizes outstanding grassroots contributions by individuals and groups working to protect California’s state parks. Filmmakers Jarratt Moody and Lauren Valentino were there to accept the award.

Congratulations to Heath Hen Films!

See Sound of Music on Mount Tamalpais

Mountain Play Association is celebrating 100 years this May! To celebrate their 100th anniversary, they are putting on The Sound of Music May 19 - June 16. If you haven't seen a play in the Mt. Tamalpais natural Cushing Memorial Amphitheatre before, be sure to try it this summer. It's the San Francisco Bay Area’s best outdoor theater experience, and it's in a state park!

Based on the memoir of Maria von Trapp, “The Story of the Trapp Family Singers,” The Sound of Music is an unforgettable story with the uplifting music of Richard Rodgers and the lyrics of Oscar Hammerstein II.

Tickets range from $15-$40 General Admission. Children 3 and under are FREE. Patrons are encouraged to carpool, take the FREE shuttle buses from Mill Valley, hike or bike to the venue as parking is limited. For more information, schedules and tickets visit mountainplay.org.

The Mountain Play Association has also self-published a new book for its 100th anniversary. “Marin's Mountain Play - One Hundred Years of Theatre on Mount Tamalpais,” describes the theatre’s lively history with historic photos accompanied by the delightful and dramatic stories of the people behind the plays.

Giving to CSPF

Gifts made through wills and retirement assets help ensure a strong future for our parks. To include CSPF in your will or trust or by beneficiary designation, please specify: California State Parks Foundation, Tax ID 94-1707583, 50 Francisco Street, Suite 110, San Francisco, CA 94133.

For more information on how to include state parks in your will or as a beneficiary of your retirement plan, please visit our website. We recommend you seek the advice of an estate or tax professional in connection with any planned gift.

Photo of the Month

Congratulations to photo contestant Julianne Bradford for winning the Photo of the Month for March! Julianne’s photo “Purple Rain” from San Clemente State Beach really captures the drama of the ocean. Click here to see a larger version of Julianne's photograph.

You could be the next winner of great prizes like a Lowepro camera bag, Chipotle Mexican Grill gift card and a CSPF membership. To participate in CSPF's contest, simply complete your free registration on MyParkPhotos.com and be sure to check off “California State Parks Foundation” next to Join Partner Contests.

Travel Tips from Weekend Sherpa

It's whale watching season, and it's high time you started spying gray whales at one of Sonoma coast’s most scenic destinations. Reached via Highway 1's topsy-turvy curves, Salt Point State Park has a coastline that rivals Big Sur.

Weekend Sherpa shares the best whale watching spots in Salt Point State Park here. Check it out!