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.

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!

CSPF Says Goodbye to Huell Howser

It is with great sadness that we must say goodbye to Huell Howser. Huell was a great friend to California state parks and CSPF.  He brought enormous enthusiasm and skill to the telling of state parks’ stories.  Huell showed California’s state parks to millions of viewers, and we are grateful for his many years of support for our parks.

In addition to “California’s Gold,” Huell ran a series from 2002 to 2010 called “California’s Golden Parks,” which showcased different state parks each month. You can read more about the “California’s Golden Parks” episodes here: calgold.com/goldenparks or watch them here: parks.ca.gov/video_parks.

Here’s an excerpt from a classic visit to Mono Lake Tufa State Natural Reserve:

 

We will all remember him with great fondness.

More money, more problems

As we reported a few weeks ago, it was discovered and publicly disclosed that the Department of Parks and Recreation (DPR) had been hiding approximately $54 million in surplus funds for the past 12 years.  The parks community was shocked, surprised and angry to discover this news.  Why have we fought so hard against park closures and budget cuts when there was more money available to DPR?

Sonoma Coast State Beach. Photo by Mike Ryan.

Now that the dust has settled a little and audits are underway, it is clear to us the money that was “discovered” may or may not be used for its intended purpose: for the maintenance of our state parks.  It is up to the Legislature where that money should go, a decision they must make in the next 9 days before the legislative session ends for the year.

We are lobbying the Legislature to allocate the recently-identified $20.3 million in funding from the State Parks and Recreation Fund (SPRF) for use in state parks.  SPRF money comes from state park fees for day-use admission or parking, overnight camping or boating, and more.  We are concerned that the SPRF money is becoming a tempting target for budget raiding. After more than 14 months of tremendous work in communities around the state to keep our parks open, it would only add insult to injury for the Legislature to put those funds elsewhere or, even worse, claim to put them into state parks but simply reduce the park system’s General Fund allocation at the same time.

That said, we are asking for help in urging legislators to maintain access and support for California’s state parks by directing the recently-identified and unspent state park funds back into the state park system. Please join more than 3,000 park advocates who have already take action and use our online system to send a message to your legislators and the governor urging them to allocate these funds back into our state park system.

Your action is extremely important, as policymakers are expected to make a decision in the next week about how to allocate this funding.

Murmurs of Generosity

We at CalPark Voices love sharing the stories of those artists who use their creative talents to help state parks in unique ways. Today we have a new artist to add to the Awesome Artist Hall of Fame.

Katherine Kean is a painter who was inspired to donate the proceeds of her newest art exhibit to CSPF.

As an environmentalist, I believe in promoting the protection of birds and other wildlife through education, art, and restoration, as well as promoting a sustainable future for California while re-connecting people to the intrinsic beauty of the environment,” said Katherine.  “My contributions to the California State Parks Foundation will continue as work from this series continues to sell.”

Her exhibit, Murmuration, is a series of paintings exploring the kinetic character of birds and nature. First exhibited at TAG Gallery at Bergamot Station in Santa Monica, CA this spring, a portion of the exhibition has moved on to be a part of a group exhibition at The Modest Fly Art Studio Gallery in Tujunga, CA.

SIDENOTE: If you don’t know what a Murmuration is, watch this and this!

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To depict the beauty and sensation of the flock’s aerial choreography, Katherine paints the birds, glazes them over, then repaints. She repeats the process several times to allow the edges to blur and, when appropriate, disappear into the background. As a result, what first appears as a smudge in the evening sky gradually takes shape, forming and reforming, occasionally allowing a wing, beak, or tail to stand out from the fluctuating chaos.

Extending the idea and organization of flocking birds, many of the paintings in this exhibition also form parts of a whole. Among the paintings are two triptychs, a two-piece modular painting, and a series of small squares that can be re-arranged to form various patterns of bird flight.

“At a particular time at the end of the day birds gather in large numbers and swoop back and forth across the sky, emerging from the dusk like a dark cloud and creating elegant patterns against the fading light,” said Katherine. “How and why they do this is a mystery, but whatever the reason this behavior is compelling to observe as individual birds disappear into the whole and become part of something larger.”

Thank you to Katherine for choosing CSPF as a beneficiary of your beautiful artwork!

Read more about Katherine’s work on her website.

Watch the ‘California Forever’ Trailer

“There are very few things in life that are able to span centuries.” This documentary, “California Forever,” shows us why California state parks do.

California Forever is a two-part documentary series about California state parks coming soon to PBS in Fall 2012, presented by KQED, San Francisco. For more information visit cal4ever.com/.

California Forever is produced by Backcountry Pictures – where the story begins at the end of the road.

California State Parks Foundation is proud to support this project.

Parks Are For Fun!

Despite our ongoing messaging of park closures these days, we also like to maintain an element of fun, because that’s what parks are for! One of our favorite fun moments every year is our ParkFilm Fest, and it is coming up this Saturday.

Come to watch a three-part Pirates of the Caribbean movie marathon on the big screen at Paramount Studios’ Bronson Theater in L.A., AND meet the real pirated of Capt. Jack Sparrow’s crew between films! (Seriously, the actors are coming. Yes, you can get autographs.)

Other fun highlights will include: walking the red carpet, free popcorn, pirate booty, green screen photos, food truck, cash bar, autographs and Q&A with six Pirates cast members, and Paramount tram tours for those who buy package tickets.

The best part of all? Proceeds from the event go to CSPF to help offset severe state budget cuts that threaten all California state parks.  Get tickets online before Friday night, or get them at the door on Saturday.

 

Fun Bonus: Tomorrow is casual Friday, which means you might find out membership department in (inadvertently) matching footwear, per usual.

The CSPF Membership Department in matching Chuck Taylors. No, it wasn’t planned!