I had the pleasure of seeing the elephant seals in action at Año Nuevo State Park this weekend. Thanks to the cool weather and some rain, they were an active, thriving group of animals, making quite a show for us humans.
These monumental animals (males can reach up to 5,000 lbs.) were close to extinction in the late 19th century. However, their populations are now large enough that many are moving out to less inhabited climes, like Piedras Blancas Rookery (just north of Cambria on the central coast) and Point Reyes. But from my perspective, Año Nuevo is still the best place to see them. That is because of the great rangers and interpreters at the park who work with more than 200 fabulous docents there. Collectively they are the masters of all things elephant seal. The scientific information that they share can’t be beat.
I have an especially fond spot in my heart for Año Nuevo because we at CSPF raised the funds that transformed the Steele Dairy Ranch into the wonderful visitor center and docent training area it is today. As part of that project, the park staff finally got real offices with modern amenities, like internet accessibility and telephones!
If you have not taken the time to see the elephant seals, now is the season to do it. The males come ashore in December and the females come and go birthing new pups and heading back out to sea carrying their newly fertilized embryo. The height of the breeding season is right around February 14.
In addition to my visit to Año Nuevo, I also had the pleasure of seeing some of CSPF’s other work in action this week. On Monday I spent the day at a convening of our Technical Assistance Center (TAC). TAC is not a place but a collection of services to help our non-profit partners grow their capacity to support state parks. TAC was developed to help the organizations that stepped up to help prevent park closures. However, with that threat eliminated, a much broader set of organizations have been partaking in the consulting services that TAC provides. More than 42 organizations have participated in TAC to access resources from fundraising and communications training to business planning support. It was great to be with many of them to hear their triumphs and the obstacles that still remain to their vital work.
And yesterday I spent the day with many folks who have been participating in the Packard Summer Matters program. This program, which CSPF participates in through the Summer Learning Program, has engaged state park interpreters all across the state in getting underserved children out into state parks for the past five summers, reaching thousands of children to date. Program leaders and key partners in the education world attended a conference in Oakland yesterday to talk about what has gone well and what we could do together to continue our successful work. The stories of the lives touched all over the state were incredible. The day ended with a story that will last with me for a long time. A boy who had been on a camping trip at a state beach with the Summer Learning Program was drawing a picture of his city. He was very proudly adding a park with a beach to his city. Now how is that for creating a future park steward?
This snapshot of a week’s worth of activities is just one example of the myriad of things we do each year to try and enhance the future for state parks. I am proud of the extraordinary work CSPF staff is doing to make a difference.
I am also most grateful to all of you for helping us be a strong enough organization to do these and the many other things we do each day. We can’t do any of this without you. Thank you.
This year, we are offering some exciting new member benefits, including a range of new park passes. The new passes will help you find a more customized membership level that gets you access to your favorite parks.
New passes include:
California Park Experience Pass
150 Years Commemorative Pass
Surf Explorer Pass
See a full list of the new membership levels and park passes here.
Registration is now open for CSPF’s 12th Annual Park Advocacy Day! Please join us on Tuesday, May 6 as we gather at the Capitol in Sacramento to spend the day lobbying policymakers in support of state parks. This is an important and fun event that allows park supporters to meet directly with legislators and legislative staff to discuss policy issues impacting the state parks system.
For more information on Park Advocacy Day and to register, please visit our website.
We hope to see you in Sacramento on May 6!
We are excited to launch a new campaign called, “California State Parks are Great Places to …”
California state parks are great places to hike, surf and camp … but they can also be so much more! We want to explore all the creative ways you are using state parks in your lives. What do you think of when you think of this phrase? Maybe it’s “Catch a Show,” “Tie the Knot” or “Be Festive.”
There are so many possible endings for this sentence, and we want to highlight them all!
Share your own “Great Places” experience by adding your photos to our “California’s state parks are great places to ..." photo collection! Your photos may become part of our display in front of the Capitol as part of our 12th Annual Park Advocacy Day and will help us convey to policymakers why state parks are worth protecting.
This Valentine’s Day, fall in love with California state parks! Show your love for our beautiful state parks by volunteering with Park Champions. We need help restoring historic orchards at Olompali (Marin) and Burleigh Murray Ranch (San Mateo), improving trails at Chino Hills (San Bernardino) and China Camp (Marin), habitat restoration at Baldwin Hills (Los Angeles), and general park maintenance at Candlestick Point (San Francisco).
Visit our website to see a map of upcoming projects at parks near you and our Flickr page for examples of Park Champions in action! Sign up today!
More than 50 educators, park professionals, policymakers, educators and funders gathered at the California Endowment in Oakland to share knowledge at a conference entitled How to Pitch a Tent: Forging a Lasting Partnership between Park-Based Programs and Summer Learning, jointly sponsored by the California State Parks Foundation, California State Parks, and the Summer Matters Initiative. Participants heard from a range of experts in the field, and shared their own learnings through a creative and open process. The results from this day of learning will be used to help inform CSPF's efforts in summer learning as this programmatic initiative evolves and moves forward.
Thanks to all who participated in yesterday's conference.
These upcoming park-related conferences may interest you.
2014 CALPA Conference & Workshops
Onward: 150 Pathways to Keeping California State Parks’ Legacy Alive
Guerneville, Western Sonoma County, CA
April 22-25, 2014
The CALPA Conference is for the organizations that partner with California State Parks. Currently there are 90 nonprofit partner organizations directly serving the California State Park System. CSPF is happy to sponsor this conference.
National Association for Olmsted Parks symposium
Frederick Law Olmsted Jr.: A Vision for the American West
March 27-28, 2014
Attendees to this symposium will explore Olmsted Jr.'s lasting influence on trends and issues specific to the American West, including land and water conservation, metropolitan growth, our national and state park systems, and protection of the region's unique environmental resources. Elizabeth Goldstein will serve as a moderator of the program.
Congratulations to photo contestant Jill Young for winning the Photo of the Month for January! Jill’s photo, “Pfeiffer Beach,” from Pfeiffer Big Sur State Park caught the light just right through that iconic rock formation.
To participate in our contest, simply complete your free registration on MyParkPhotos.com and be sure to check off “California State Parks Foundation” next to Join Partner Contests.
Wanna take your hiking to a higher level, pronto? From an elevation of 2,643 feet to 8,615 feet, the Palm Springs Aerial Tramway whisks high-altitude explorers from desert to alpine wilderness in 10 minutes. The windowed, revolving tramcar smoothly cruises up to Mount San Jacinto State Park, getting up-close-and-personal with Chino Canyon’s jagged cliffs.
Find out more at Weekend Sherpa.