California State Parks are Great Places to: Achieve Our Goals

This is the first installment in our “State Parks are Great Places to” series.

 

California state parks have something for everyone. Many parks serve as an extensive outdoor playground for all types of athletes, from runners to bikers, climbers to surfers. State parks are great places to help athletes achieve there goals, whether it is training, racing, or just getting outside to do their sport.

One CSPF member sums up how state parks help him achieve his goals:

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If you are looking for ways to use state parks in your own athletic training, here are some upcoming outdoor events in state parks to get you started:

ENDURANCE EVENTS 

RUNNING RACES

COASTAL TRAIL RACES

Skyline to the Sea trail: http://sempervirens.org/get-outdoors/skyline-to-the-sea-trail/

ROCK CLIMBING

MOUNTAIN BIKING

What sports do you do in state parks? Do you have a favorite event that you would add to this list?

Kids Teaching Kids About State Parks

Last month in Chico, California approximately fifty 11th and 12th grade students from Pleasant Valley High School’s ACE-LIFE Academy HERO and Careers with Kids classes had their annual Public Safety Day for K-6 students in our area.

The event is an educational experience for hundreds of elementary students. The high school students researched and collaborated on a safety topic of their group’s choice.  Some of the safety presentations included: California State Park safety, water safety, fire safety and playground safety.

It is exciting to see kids interested in state parks. What an amazing idea to teach other kids how to safely enjoy our state parks. The high school students also made a fun scavenger hunt to help others learn and enjoy even more. Great job!

Free Memorial Day Admission at State Parks for Veterans, Active and Reserve Military Personnel

6_mar_pgCalifornia State Parks will honor men and women who have served or are serving in the Armed Forces this Memorial Day by offering free admission at participating state parks.

State parks participating on Memorial Day include 133 parks that are accessible with the “Surf Explorer” Annual Pass, plus eight State Vehicular Recreation Areas (SVRAs), as well as the California State Railroad Museum in Sacramento.

Veterans, active duty, and reserve military personnel must show a valid military I.D. or proof of honorable discharge (e.g.: signed copy of DD214 From), in order to receive free admission.

The free admission is part of AB 150, authored by Assemblymember Kristin Olsen and signed by Governor Edmund G. Brown, Jr. in 2013. The bill authorizes California State Parks to offer veterans, active duty or reserve military personnel for the United States Armed Forces and the National Guard of any state a reduced or free day use at participating California state parks. California State Parks will also offer free admission for active duty or reserve military and veterans on Veterans Day, November 11, 2015.

Assembly Republican Leader Kristin Olsen accepts her Park Legacy Award from CSPF Board Trustee Virginia Chang Kiraly

Assembly Republican Leader Kristin Olsen accepts her Park Legacy Award from CSPF Board Trustee Virginia Chang Kiraly

CSPF honored Assemblymember Olsen at Park Advocacy Day on May 5 for her leadership on this legislation as well as for her efforts to raise visibility of the state parks system’s 150th anniversary in 2014.

We hope those who have served our country can enjoy our state parks on Monday!

Source: CA State Parks Press Release

Park Advocates Bring State Parks to Sacramento

Tuesday, May 5 marked another successful Park Advocacy Day at the Capitol hosted by California State Parks Foundation. This year, over 160 park advocates from all over the state joined together for a day of advocacy and lobbying on behalf of state parks. The day included presentations by legislators, an expo on the Capitol lawn featuring state park partners and activities, a busy afternoon of legislative visits, and an evening reception to honor two park supporters in the Legislature — Kristin Olsen and Anthony Rendon.

The expo on the Capitol lawn was themed, “California State Parks are Great Places for You and Me.” It included booths from dozens of park partners showcasing why they love parks and what activities their local parks provide. Booths included trail stewardship, water sampling, recycling, theater, animals, historic dress, fire research, documentary, marine life, and more.

Advocates lobbied three bills in particular during their legislative appointments:

  1. Assembly Bill 327 (Gordon) — This bill would extend a prevailing wage exemption for public works volunteers for the next 7 years so that volunteers may continue to offer unpaid work to state parks. Advocates expressed how important volunteer work is in state parks, particularly as budget cuts have stretched park staff too thin.
  2. Assembly Bill 988 (Stone) — This bill would create an Outdoor Environmental Education and Recreation Grant Program within DPR to award grants to public organizations and/or nonprofits for outdoor environmental education and recreation programs. Advocates emphasized how important it is to give kids, particularly at-risk youth, the opportunity to experience the outdoors.
  3. Senate Bill 317 (De León) — This bill would create the Safe Neighborhood Parks, Rivers and Coastal Protection Bond of 2016, a $2.4 billion bond to be placed on the November 2016 ballot for approval by California voters. The bond would provide substantial funding for various park areas, including local parks, state parks, rivers/lakes/streams, coastal conservation, climate resilience, and more.

After advocates finished meeting with nearly every office in the Capitol, they rejoined together at the Elks Tower Ballroom for a reception to celebrate their hard work, as well as recognize Assemblymembers Kristin Olsen and Anthony Rendon for their work on behalf of state parks.

It was a great day in Sacramento. Kudos to all the amazing park advocates who came out to support their state parks!

Volunteers Made Earth Day Count in California State Parks

Our 2015 Earth Day Restoration & Cleanup on Saturday, April 18 was a huge success! Awesome, happy, hardworking volunteers came out to 27 state parks throughout California to lend a helping hand, and their work made a big impact!

Here are just a few of the great volunteers:

Earth Day would not be possible without the generous donations and hardworking volunteers from presenting sponsor PG&E, as well as sponsors Chevron, Oracle and Edison. Thank you sponsors!

Special thanks also goes to our refreshment providers Peet’s Coffee & Tea, Togo’s, Larabar, Subway, and The Fruit Guys. Their generosity fed some very hungry volunteers.

A shout out also to our media partners who helped us get the word out about our event and find those awesome volunteers.

And finally, big props to the park staff who coordinated these projects and gave us all an opportunity to make a direct impact for Earth Day.

Happy Earth Day, indeed.

Success (Again) for San Onofre!

We won another victory (our fifth one!) yesterday, March 16, at the San Diego Regional Water Quality Board (RWQB.) The RWQB adopted findings that once and for all rejected Waste Water Discharge permits the Toll Road Authority’s (TCA) had requested. They did so with a vote of 6-0.  We are thrilled.  This victory was not a forgone conclusions because a great number of the RWQB Commissioners were new to the dialogue.

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When RWQB originally rejected the permits in July 2013, the TCA appealed that decision to the California Water Board.  The California Water Board remanded the decision back to San Diego, saying that the Board needed to make more thorough findings but that the legal basis to their original decision was sound.  The staff report to the RWQB was excellent and in the end was persuasive.

CSPF members sent 388 letters to the RWQB at our request, making our advocacy voice heard loud and clear.  Overall all the organizations in the Coalition generated more than 5,000 letters supporting San Onofre.

As always, we are delighted to be a part of such a strong coalition of protectors of San Onofre, including the Surfrider Foundation, NRDC, Audubon, and the Endangered Habitats League.  We all bring our own strengths to this fight and are so much better for it.

We are all hoping this project doesn’t have NINE lives.

Help Us Restore a Coastal Beacon

DSC_0299Pigeon Point Lighthouse is one of the oldest and most treasured landmarks on the California coast. Its first-order Fresnel lens, the most powerful lens of the day, was a marvel of high-tech design when it was first lit in 1872. For more than 140 years this strong, stunning beacon has guided passing ships and inspired millions of visitors from all over the world.

Unfortunately, after a lifetime of exposure to wind, rain, sun, fog, and salty sea mist, the 115-foot tower is literally crumbling. And recent structural failure compromises the tower’s integrity and makes complete rehabilitation critically necessary. Closed to the public since a portion of its iron belt course broke off in 2001, it may not stand for the years ahead without immediate action.

And the California State Park Foundation has stepped in to take that action. CSPF is spearheading a major fundraising campaign in partnership with California Department of Parks and Recreation to restore Pigeon Point Lighthouse to its original glory and give it a renewed future. And on March 21st, the Park Champions volunteer program will host a special volunteer workday at Pigeon Point. This workday will focus on habitat restoration projects to improve the plant and animal habitat surrounding the lighthouse, reinvigorating this stretch of the beautiful central San Mateo coast.

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This volunteer workday will take place Saturday, March 21st from 9:00 am – 1:30 pm. A tour of the lighthouse grounds and description of the restoration project will be lead by our very own Programs Manager Cecille Caterson. Lunch will be provided, and teens 16 and up are welcome with a legal guardian. To sign up for this workday, visit the Park Champions volunteer calendar.

Once this important landmark has been restored and reopened to the public, it will provide rich educational opportunities to hundreds of thousands of tourists, school children, and hostel guests who visit each year. The lens will once again dazzle us with its 24 beams of light; we hope you’ll join us in making it happen.

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A Dream for the Bowtie Parcel

Intro: What is the Bowtie?

There is a shared dream in Los Angeles to turn a piece of neglected land — The Bowtie Parcel — into a vibrant space used and loved by the local community. The Bowtie Parcel, located  within Rio de Los Angeles State Park, has been part of the state parks system since 2003, but has not available to the public for over a decade. However, the dream for this space has started to take shape with the help of a collaborative group working together to bring new life to this overlooked piece of land.

The Bowtie Project is a collaboration between Clockshop, the California Department of Parks and Recreation, local artists and the community for the revitalization of the Bowtie Parcel. It is bringing together local artists, organizing community events and revitalizing this area of the park. California State Parks Foundation began supporting this emerging partnership with a Park Enrichment Grant in June 2014.

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The Bowtie Parcel’s Roundhouse Shines by Olga Koumoundouros. Photo by Gina Clyne.

Bowtie Project Update

GUEST BLOG BY STEPHANIE CAMPBELL, CALIFORNIA DEPARTMENT OF PARKS AND RECREATION STAFF PARK AND RECREATION SPECIALIST, ON THE NEWLY-FORMED PARTNERSHIP AND HOW THE BOWTIE IS BEING TRANSFORMED AND REVITALIZED

 

Since early 2014, Bowtie Parcel “Outdoor Arts, Nature, and Learning Laboratory at Rio de Los Angeles State Park” has been an active and evolving partnership with Elysian Valley non-­profit Clockshop. So much so, that we’ve settled on calling the collaboration simply “The Bowtie Project,” which better captures the amorphous blend of art, environment, and critical inquiry occurring at the site. Inspired to apply for a California State Parks Foundation grant by the early success of Michael Parker’s “monument making” sculpture workshop atop The Unfinished, we have since partnered with artists Olga Koumoundouros and Rosten Woo on site specific installations and youth workshops. We’ve also hosted a second, wildly popular LA River Campout, shared an art and nature walk with local girl scouts, and  made connections for future projects with art teachers at the nearby Sonia Sotomayor Learning Academy and the non-profit Artworxla (formerly the HeArt Project) aimed at reducing high school dropout rates through arts education.

Olga Koumoundouros engaged local youth from the beginning of her project “Roundhouse Shines” by reaching out to those already using the roundhouse for artistic expression and an informal gathering spot. She encouraged their participation in the creation of her installation as well as in a provocative closing performance questioning the concept of land ownership as it relates to disenfranchised populations who have long used and occupied this fringe space along the Los Angeles River.

Reading the interpretive sign. Photo by Rosten Woo.

The LA River Interpretive Signage Program by Rosten Woo. Photo by Gina Clyne.

Similarly, Rosten Woo’s “Interpretive Signage Program” though seeming to fit the traditional model of State Parks historical and natural interpretive signage, addresses the question on gentrification head on by tracing the connection between public investment and private development, and the resultant effect on longtime neighborhood residents. Rosten presented the first phase of his signage program at the second LA River Campout and it was enthusiastically received by youth groups attending the event. They were particularly interested in his contrast of traditional camping, with the issue of homelessness, and criminalization of “outdoor sleeping” in urban areas.

An upclose view. Photo by Rosten Woo.

The LA River Interpretive Signage Program by Rosten Woo. Photo by Gina Clyne.

Mackenzie Hoffman of Clockshop and Ranger Keleigh Apperson from CSP led the Larchmont Village Girl Scouts Troop 459 on a nature walk, while also taking time to explore and discuss The Unfinished and Roundhouse Shines. The scouts were enthused and engaged with both projects and delighted in the rough‐hewn charm of the undeveloped site. Though, since receiving the California State Parks Foundation Discretionary Grant, we’ve outfitted our mobile classroom with custom made benches and worktables to facilitate more structured, yet still flexible classroom activities.

2015 is shaping up to be another eventful year with the third LA River Campout on the horizon this May and a new group of artists embarking on projects at the site. Currently, Rafael Esparza is presenting Con Safos, a collaboration with Self‐Help Graphics and a rotating roster of local artists. Muralists will transform his adobe wall over the course of several months and Esparza, along with a participating artist who is also a teacher, are currently planning workshops and youth outreach associated with the project. Artists Taisha Paggett and Carolina Caycedo are developing dance and storytelling projects, respectively, and are expected to share their process and disciplines with youth as they contemplate the past, present and future of the site and its connection to the Los Angeles River.

Looking forward. Photo by Gina Clyne.

Looking forward. Photo by Gina Clyne.

Action Alert: Write an Email to Stop the Tollroad

We need your voice! Take action now and write to the San Diego Regional Water Quality Control Board to urge them stop the Foothill tollroad at their March 16 hearing. Comments are due February 18, 2015 before 2 p.m., and public support is critical.

San Onofre State Beach Image ©Julianne Bradford

What’s Going On

The proposed Foothill tollroad, if built on the route preferred by the Transportation Corridor Agency (TCA), would literally bisect San Onofre State Beach and would run through some of Southern California’s most intact habitat lands in Orange and San Diego counties. The California Coastal Commission and the U.S. Department of Commerce turned down the TCA’s original proposal. Even so, the TCA came up with a new strategy to first construct the northern segment — called the Tesoro Extension — thus creating pressure for full completion.

When asked for a water quality permit, the San Diego Regional Water Quality Control Board saw through this ruse, and refused to issue a permit for Tesoro until such time as the entirety of the project was before them. Upon appeal, the State Water Board affirmed the legal basis for this denial. Now, the San Diego Regional Board needs to make “findings” at its March 16 hearing to finalize its decision.

Our Position

As you know, the California State Parks Foundation, along with a great coalition of other organizations like the Natural Resources Defense Council, Surfrider Foundation, the Endangered Habitats League, Sea and Sage Audubon and the California Coastkeeper, have been working to prevent the tollroad from destroying San Onofre State Beach for many years. We keep winning and then another challenge appears on the horizon. Fundamentally, this battle is about whether state parks are protected lands or outside agencies may make use of these lands willy-nilly for non-park purposes. We believe state parks should be protected.

How You Can Help

Please help us reinforce the San Diego Regional Water Board decision to reject the toll road’s water quality permit by sending an email with our online form.

Comments are due by 2 p.m. Wednesday, February 18!