California state parks are great places to …

How do you finish the sentence?

Take a hike? Be a team player? See a star?

We think the possibilities are endless! That’s why we have started a new campaign to collect photos and stories from park users to learn why they think state parks are great. Check out the Great Places campaign here.

greatplaces_banner_collageWe have received some fantastic photos so far. You can see them all on our Flickr page.

We’d love to see your photos! Upload your Great Places images to our campaign webpage now.  We may include them in upcoming communications to our members (email and social media) as well as in our Great Places expo taking place during Park Advocacy Day.

Study Reveals Most Americans Care About Environment

“How many Americans are using environmental information to make everyday decisions?”

The National Environmental Education Foundation (NEEF) commissioned a groundbreaking national study to measure environmental behavior and attitudes. The results provide NEEF a baseline for its vision that by 2022, 300 million Americans actively use environmental knowledge to ensure the well-being of the earth and its people.

Survey highlights include:

  • Six out of ten American adults take some sort of action when learning about the environmental issues facing the world
  • 61% of adults visited a park or nature center in the last 12 months.
  • 52% of adults consider zoos, nature centers and parks as trustworthy sources for environmental problems and issues.
  • 77% of adults turn the lights off when leaving a room.
  • 9% of adults compost.
  • 59% of adults consider an environmentally conscious lifestyle a lot of work.

 The research surveyed 1,500 individuals between 18 and 74 years of age with demographics in balance with the U.S. Census.

 Find out more information about NEEF and this survey.

Volunteer Profile: Anchor Brewing at China Camp State Park

anchor_volunteersWe are extremely lucky to have amazing volunteers who participate in our Park Champions Program. Park Champions is our ongoing volunteer program for which we coordinate several volunteer projects at state parks all over California each month. Small groups of volunteers work incredibly hard and make substantial and tangible changes in just a few hours.

Check out some of the photo highlights on our Flickr page. You’ll notice that hard work is always rewarded with seriously delicious lunches.

One recent volunteer day at China Camp State Park brought out a group from Anchor Brewing Company, a great partner to CSPF. They wrote about their experience on the Anchor Brewing Blog:

On a brisk, clear day in late November, a group of Anchor employees gathered at one of California’s many beautiful state parks to help build an outdoor education classroom. The volunteer event took place at China Camp State Park, located along the shore of San Francisco Bay in Marin County, just north of the City. The day’s tasks included painting a base coat on a decommissioned water tank (where students will soon be painting a mural), assembling a new fence, and stripping bark off of logs that will be converted into a climbing structure. The collaborative effort of the Anchor volunteers and state park staff helped revitalize this part of the park that students and teachers will soon be able to utilize for a multitude of outdoor educational activities.

The event was the second volunteer day for Anchor employees in collaboration with the California State Parks Foundation (CSPF). Anchor’s partnership with CSPF was launched in February 2013 with the release of Anchor California Lager®. California’s state parks system, Anchor’s history, and California’s first genuine lager were all born in the second half of the 19th century, and as a tribute to our shared history and traditions, a partnership seemed natural to us.

Read more of their post at: anchorbrewing.com/blog/anchor-brewing-volunteer-day-at-china-camp-state-park/

A big thank you to the Anchor folks for their hard work and their ongoing support of CSPF!

If you are the beer drinking kind, remember that Anchor donates a portion of the proceeds from sales of California Lager to CSPF, so be sure to give it a try.

For information about how you can volunteer with our Park Champions Program, visit our website and find an upcoming workday near you.  We would greatly appreciate your help!

Know Your History, Know Your Parks – Part 3

CSPF’s third Hidden Stories Series conference, Folding Back the Layers of California’s Latino/a History: The Stories Beneath the Stories, is taking place on October 2 and 3 in Los Angeles … just in time for Hispanic Heritage Month! Hispanic Heritage Month runs from September 15 through October 15.

The 2013 Hidden Stories conference will explore Latino history in the context of California’s state parks. This conference seeks to go beyond existing interpretation of historical Latino figures to look at “the stories beneath the stories,” or going beyond what is commonly known in order to uncover how these figures shaped our history, influenced our society, and left permanent, although unrecognized, impressions on our state.

Find out more info…

SNEAK PEEK: Ranchos Camulos

One Hidden Stories presenter, Margie Brown-Coronel, Ph.D., gave us some awesome factoids as a preview to the conference:

  • Rancho Camulos (located on border of Los Angeles and Ventura Counties) has had only two owners since its original Mexican Land Grant in 1839 – the del Valle Family and the Rubel Family. Today it is a National Historic Landmark and open to the public part of the week.
  • The large family portrait used in the conference promotional literature was taken at Rancho Camulos. The event was one of many family barbeques that the del Valle family hosted from the late 1860s to the early twentieth century. The original photo can be found at the Seaver Center for Western Research at Natural History Museum of Los Angeles County.

Find out more about Rancho Camulos here, or at the Hidden Stories Conference on October 2 and 3. Today is the last day to get tickets!

Fall Is Here!

James Kenney Malibu Canyon SP

Malibu Canyon State Park shows its fallish colors. Photo ©James Kennedy

A monumental seasonal event takes place this Sunday—the Autumnal Equinox. Equal day, and equal night. Every day forward will have less light, and more darkness. The front door is officially open to the wonders of fall in California and our parks.

Get used to seeing more of the night sky! Fall and winter constellations are fantastic. About 30 minutes after full sunset on Sunday (and before that waning but still powerful Harvest Moon rises at just after 9 p.m.) look to the southwest and several prominent celestial bodies can be seen. The planet Venus is the brightest, but you can also spot Saturn a bit higher than Venus. Hanging down low just above the horizon is Mercury. Another standout, a star this time, will be the star Spica—the brightest star in the constellation Virgo, and the 15th brightest overall. As fall progresses, some classic and prominent constellations take over the sky, such as the stalwarts of Cassiopeia, and the Little Dipper and the Big Dipper. But Orion, Taurus, and the star Sirius (the brightest in the sky!) in Canis Major. The Swan and The Eagle flying across the sky will help you see the Milky Way (along with Cassiopeia).

Back down on the ground all sorts of things begin to change and move around. Some birds begin to wing their way south. Up to 1.5 million Eared Grebes have been recorded on Mono Lake in the fall. Millions of ducks and geese fill the central valley, and numerous birds of prey make their way south across the state.

And, yes, we do have seasons and fall color here in California! While counting those Grebes at Mono Lake, or while driving back toward the Sierra from Bodie State Historic Park, scan the precipitous eastern slope of the Sierra and marvel at swaths of orange and yellow as entire hillsides of quaking aspens turn. Drive around Lake Tahoe, or through the Gold Country and its numerous state parks, and fall foliage abounds.

See yourself in state parks this fall. Photo ©Jim Duckworth

See yourself in state parks this fall. Photo ©Jim Duckworth

The word on the trail is that two classic indicators (OK, three) are telling us it will be a wetter and cooler winter than normal here in California. The first two have been handed down by California’s native inhabitants—when acorns drop earlier than normal (and they did), and bear’s coats are thick and shiny early (and they are), then winter is coming early and strong. Also, the Farmer’s Almanac calls for the same thing. And nobody dare doubt the Farmer’s Almanac!

So, plan your trips accordingly state park lovers! Whether you are a night gazer, birder, fall color enthusiast, cool weather hiker, or snow fanatic, the fall (and soon the winter) has plenty to offer.

What is your favorite fall activity in a state park?

Know Your History, Know Your Parks – Part 2

CSPF’s third Hidden Stories Series conference, Folding Back the Layers of California’s Latino/a History: The Stories Beneath the Stories, is taking place on October 2 and 3 in Los Angeles … just in time for Hispanic Heritage Month! Hispanic Heritage Month runs from September 15 through October 15.

The 2013 Hidden Stories conference will explore Latino history in the context of California’s state parks. This conference seeks to go beyond existing interpretation of historical Latino figures to look at “the stories beneath the stories,” or going beyond what is commonly known in order to uncover how these figures shaped our history, influenced our society, and left permanent, although unrecognized, impressions on our state.

Find out more info…

SNEAK PEEK: The Gold Rush

One Hidden Stories presenter, Tomás Summers Sandoval, Ph.D., works as a professor of Chicana/o Studies and History at Pomona College in Claremont. He posed the following sneak peek question:

Did you know that in the 19th century, Latin Americans from nations other than Mexico were the majority of the Spanish-speaking population of San Francisco? And, what first drew Latin American migrants to San Francisco?

Mercedes Melendez Wright San Francisco, 1890s Native of El Salvador, married to American Capt. John T. Wright Photo courtesy of Pamela Wright Lloyd

Mercedes Melendez Wright
San Francisco, 1890s
Native of El Salvador, married to American Capt. John T. Wright
Photo courtesy of Pamela Wright Lloyd

During and following California’s gold rush in 1848, many Central Americans and South Americans, principally Peruvians, Bolivians, and Chileans, flocked to San Francisco by boat. San Francisco was the gateway to the gold fields. Many people from South America’s Andean countries had been mining for generations under the watchful eye of the Spanish. They arrived to not only work the gold fields, but also to provide services as mining experts. Others arrived as sea-going and land-based merchants to take advantage of the wild and bustling economy in the city and the Sierra Nevada.

Find out more about this and other topics at our Hidden Stories Conference. Conference and ticket information can be found here.

Know Your History, Know Your Parks

CSPF’s third Hidden Stories Series conference, Folding Back the Layers of California’s Latino/a History: The Stories Beneath the Stories, is taking place on October 2 and 3 in Los Angeles.

The 2013 Hidden Stories conference will explore Latino history in the context of California’s state parks. This conference seeks to go beyond existing interpretation of historical Latino figures to look at “the stories beneath the stories,” or going beyond what is commonly known in order to uncover how these figures shaped our history, influenced our society, and left permanent, although unrecognized, impressions on our state.

Find out more info…

SNEAK PEEK: California Citrus State Historic Park

Citrus Apr13 450One Hidden Stories presenter will be José Alamillo, Ph.D., Full Professor and Coordinator of the Chicana/o Studies Program at California State University, Channel Islands. His Hidden Stories presentation is titled “California Citrus State Historic Park and Mexican American Neighborhoods.”

Here’s a sneak peek of his presentation:

“Latino neighborhoods did not only originate in urban cities but also in rural and suburban areas near railroads, mines and agricultural fields. As the citrus industry expanded in the late 19th century it became a strong economic engine for the state of California. To remain profitable however it recruited foreign labor from Asia and Latin America. Mexican workers increasingly became the largest labor force during the 1920s due to stable employment and family housing provided by growers. Mexican American neighborhoods emerged with the development of California citrus industry like Santa Paula, Pomona, Orange, San Dimas, and Casa Blanca, Eastside Riverside, and Corona.”

If you would like to learn more about this and other topics surrounding California’s historic Latino population then please join us at this year’s conference!

Conference and ticket information can be found here.  PS early bird ticket prices end September 10!

Thanks Professor Alamillo!

Are parks still relevant?

There is an interesting article published in The Economist this month about declining visitation numbers in national parks, particularly among young Americans. The article, “Why go outside when you have an iPhone?,” concludes that today’s youth are more interested in roller coasters and techie entertainment than they are in our natural spaces.

“The National Park Service has all manner of explanations for its stagnating popularity. The simplest is that other forms of entertainment are distracting Americans from its charms. As Jonathan Jarvis, its director, put it in 2011: “There are times when it seems as if the national parks have never been more passé than in the age of the iPhone.” A spokesman cites the proliferation of middle-class holiday options in recent decades, from time-share accommodation that makes a regular stay at the beach affordable to family-focused developments in spots like central Florida and Las Vegas.”

Read the full article here.

In a world of Facebook, Wi-Fi and endless gadgets, this conclusion makes sense. Couple this with tough economic times and high gas prices, and it is no surprise that fewer families are taking road trips to America’s national parks.

There is something greatly unsettling about this trend. Because truly, it seems like Americans could benefit from parks and natural spaces now more than ever before.

As someone who is an established park lover, “Why go outside when you have an iPhone?” seems like a silly question. I go outside precisely because I have an iPhone … so I can turn it off, escape my screens, and get away from the hustle and bustle of my city, job and never-ending email. I’d venture to guess that many of my fellow park lovers feel the same way. The natural world is an amazing respite from our 21st Century lives.

Yet I only know the benefits because I have already been exposed to them and have experienced them first hand. Not everyone has had these experiences.

As the article goes on to explain, there are entire new generations growing up in America who don’t know what they are missing … because they have never been introduced to the parks, and they have no reason to be. They have no cultural connection, no personal history in the parks, and plenty of distractions to keep their attention elsewhere. America has become more diverse, but parks have not diversified their appeal.

Future-Park-LoversThis is an interesting challenge for an organization like ours. How can we make our natural spaces and parks relevant, accessible and important to ALL Americans? Our California state parks, in particular, offer an amazing array of natural, cultural and historical resources across the entire state. Whether or not Californians know about these places, prefer them as a destination or truly value them in their lives is a question we want to explore further.

Yesterday we held a meeting of the minds to discuss these very concepts. With a room full of diverse experts, we explored relevancy of state parks to the diverse California population, and the things that drive different people to explore and experience the outdoors. We plan to continue this work and hope you will stay engaged with us as we strive to engage more people with California state parks than ever before.

We truly believe that everyone can benefit from connecting with their state parks. If that means introducing parks to new generations of Californians and Americans, then we are up for the challenge.

What’s your response to, “Why go outside when you have an iPhone?”?

- Alexis Stoxen, California State Parks Foundation

Having a Safe Summer Outdoors

A guest post BY TRISTAN ROBERTS

Tristan Roberts is a writer and agent who sells real estate in the Tahoe area and who loves spending every minute he can on the Lake Tahoe shores.

Emerald Bay State Park, photo © Claire Toney

Emerald Bay State Park, photo © Claire Toney

This time of year America’s parks and lakes fill up with families enjoying beautiful scenery and weather. I know that the Lake Tahoe lakefront fills up with locals and visitors alike so quickly that it can become difficult to find enough space to lay out a towel. Unfortunately, extreme heat, unfamiliar terrain, and risky behaviors can lead to injuries. By following just a few simple tips you can avoid any trouble and have a fun, safe summer outdoors.

  • Dehydration

One of the most common causes of summer hospital visits for people of all ages is dehydration. Drinking enough water is important at any time of year, but if you’re spending your days outside in the sun and the heat, it becomes critical. Drinking anywhere from 8-10 8oz glasses of water each day can help fend off dehydration, and paying close attention to your body will help you catch any symptoms early.

If you notice that you’re hot but you aren’t sweating, or if you develop dry mouth, get out of the sun and start pushing fluids. If you feel dizzy, weak, or faint, you may need to seek medical care. Be sure to avoid liquids that dehydrate you, such as coffee or caffeinated soda.

  • Sun burns

As unpleasant as a mild burn can be, nobody wants to cope with a hospital-worthy sun burn. Many people forget that when they’re next to a body of water, the sun is hitting them from two directions. Obviously remember your sunscreen, but if you’re going to be out in the sun for most of the day, keep a long-sleeved, light colored shirt handy to protect your skin from as much exposure as you can. Choose breathable fabrics that will allow you to keep cool as well.

  • Don’t go alone

The buddy system exists for a reason. Hiking or swimming alone is just dangerous behavior. Just ask the guy from “127 Hours.” Bringing a friend will add to your fun and prevent any situation where you wind up stranded alone.

  • Know the rules

Whether you’re on the water or in a state park, know the rules. Do you need a life vest? Are there wild animals who you should prepare to encounter? Will you require some kind of license or permit? Whatever you’re doing this summer, investigate any rules or regulations that you’ll need to follow before you head out so that you’ll be prepared for any event.

Enjoy your safe summer in the parks!

It’s not too late to camp on the Fourth of July

What better way to celebrate our independence than by camping?

What better way to celebrate Independence Day than by camping?

Camping in your local state park is a great way to celebrate the Fourth of July. It is definitely a popular day for camping, but don’t worry if you don’t have a site booked yet — there are still some parks with camp sites available on Thursday, July 4.

Here is a list of state parks with open campsites currently available.

Just don’t wait too much longer, you must book a campsite is 48 hours in advance, which means by Tuesday, July 2.

If you’d rather try your luck, there are also several parks that reserve campsites for first-come, first-served. It’s a bit of a gamble, but it might pay off big! Be sure to go early Thursday morning if you’d like to camp on the Fourth of July, and have a back-up plan just in case.

Happy Independence Day!