The Season of Giving

’Tis the season! Chanukah starts Tuesday and Christmas and New Year’s are just around the corner. Lights are twinkling, trees are decorated, candles are glowing. Have you caught the holiday bug yet? We at CSPF have, especially with all the generosity we have seen swirling around this year.


First, some amazing folks across the state have been working tirelessly and collaboratively to give state parks back to their fellow Californians.

  • The Coe Park Preservation Fund stepped up this week to fund Henry Coe State Park from July 1, 2012 through June 30, 2015.
  • The Bodie Foundation will keep Mono Lake Tufa State Natural Reserve open to the public for at least a year.
  • The National Parks Service (NPS) teamed up with State Parks to keep Tomales Bay, Samuel P. Taylor and Del Norte Coast Redwoods state parks open through 2012.
  • A crucial $250,000 federal grant was awarded and should allow McGrath State Beach Park to remain open.
  • Plenty more groups are working hard to save additional state parks, and we can’t wait to hear of new announcements of saved parks!

As if that isn’t enough, hundreds of generous people are flocking to the Kickstarter site of our friends at Heath Hen Films to help them fund their upcoming documentary, The First 70. You’ve heard us talk about them before, and we are still rooting for them as they finish up this important film. In fact, with the giving spirit all around us, CSPF today contributed to Heath Hen’s Kickstarter site, and we encourage you all to do the same! They have 16 days left to fundraise, and we want to see them succeed.

The spirit of giving is quite contagious as it turns out. Hope you catch it. Happy Holidays!

Bonus: What’s a gift without an overly elaborate wrapping job?

That’s MY Park

Let’s have an honest moment together; right here, right now. Yes, we love and value California state parks; all 278 of them. They all have intrinsic value, they are all worthy of our love. But while we care about all of them, some of the parks have more personal meaning to you or me than others. Maybe it’s the one you grew up camping in with your family, or the one you visit twice a week for a hike, but more likely than not, there are some state parks that make you say, “That’s MY park.”

These feelings are normal, don’t worry! In fact, it’s this special loyalty that fuels the existence of local park associations, which we love. These cooperating associations often represent one, two or a handful of state parks in their local area. The California League of Park Associations (CALPA) has dozens of these organizations in its membership.

Event Deets

One such local group, Friends of Santa Cruz State Parks, has an upcoming opportunity for you to get involved on this very personal, local level. The Friends 35th Anniversary Party on December 12 at the Dream Inn in Santa Cruz is going to be a great opportunity to celebrate 35 years of community love and support for local state parks and beaches.

Friends of Santa Cruz State Parks represents:

  • Castro Adobe State Historic Park
  • Coast Dairies State Park
  • Lighthouse Field State Beach
  • Manresa State Beach
  • Manresa Uplands State Beach
  • Natural Bridges State Beach
  • New Brighton State Beach
  • Palm State Beach
  • Rio Del Mar State Beach
  • Santa Cruz Mission State Park
  • Seabright State Beach
  • Seacliff State Beach
  • The Forest of Nisene Marks State Park
  • Twin Lakes State Beach
  • Sunset State Beach
  • Wilder Ranch State Park

If any of these parks make you say, “That’s MY park,” then you should definitely be at this event. And if they don’t, maybe now is the time to claim a new state park as your own, because there’s no limit to how many you can love!

Or, if you live in a different part of the state, find a cooperating association near you.

Do you have a cooperating association in your community you want us to know about? Give them a shout out in the comments!

Guest Post: Facing the Wind

A guest post from CSPF President Elizabeth Goldstein

High winds are blowing all over California.  I woke to them here in the Bay Area and to news stories of hurricane force winds in Southern California.  As I watched the crowns of trees dance around on my commute to work, I couldn’t help but to think what an apt metaphor that is for state parks this year.

It has been a windy year indeed.  From the announcement of the state park closure list to the passage of the state budget with a disastrous cut to California State Parks’ budget, everyone in the parks community has been on an unprecedented and uncertain journey to a future none of us want.

Windswept Antelope Poppy Reserve by Ian Lebby

Yet there are also some positive signs out there.  And though they may not amount to a silver lining, they are encouraging nonetheless.  As you all know, AB 42 passed and was signed into law.  Non profits all over the state are beginning to make proposals to California State Parks to take over management of some parks and keep them open.

Some of the more interesting and promising efforts are happening in Sonoma County with the formation of the new Sonoma Parks Alliance  to keep the five Sonoma state parks from closing.

In addition, the National Park Service has stepped up with a one year commitment to help keep Samuel P. Taylor, Tomales Bay and Del Norte Coast Redwoods state parks open.  And there are donors all over the state who have expressed interest in keeping parks open.

But the climb will be steep.  Capacity to respond will be dependent on a lot of fast, steady learning and a willingness to deal with change.  And that is a challenge to all of us, in the best of times.  We are already bringing partners to the table to assist in these transitions.  For instance, Paul Hastings LLP, a great law firm here in the San Francisco Bay Area, has agreed to represent all of the non profits in their negotiations with California State Parks to develop operating agreements for specific parks. As we speak, we are working to amass a group of needed resources for the whole parks community.

We have also been seeing some fantastic progress on other fronts, as well.  The Fresnel lens at the Pigeon Point Light Station has been removed from the lighthouse and reconstructed in the Fog Signal Building for the public to view, marking the exciting beginning of our long-awaited restoration efforts there.  And at Yosemite Slough in Candlestick Point State Recreation Area, the first phase of work reached an amazing milestone with the opening of seven restored acres to tidal action that will eventually be wetlands alongside the slough.  Water flowed in just like it was supposed to!  We couldn’t be more thrilled.  In both cases, we still have tens of millions of dollars to raise before we can complete all the phases of these projects; but the fact that they are rolling, and the results are showing, is just marvelous.

Like a tree in a heavy wind, we must be flexible to the changes around us or we will break.  I am so grateful to all of you for supporting our work as we shift to face the wind.

- Elizabeth Goldstein, president, California State Parks Foundation