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!

Share a Sweet State Park Valentine

Send your loved ones a sweet Valentine courtesy of the California State Parks Foundation that celebrate your love and the great California outdoors!

Happy Valentine’s Day.

XOXO,

California State Parks Foundation

Take Your Valentine to a State Park

This Valentine’s Day, think outside the chocolate box … and surprise your loved one with a date in the great outdoors! Our state parks offer lots of opportunities to enjoy a special day outdoors with your sweetie.

Our state parks provide countless opportunities to explore and learn more about plants, animals and nature. That’s why we think that California’s state parks are Great Places to “Get Wild” with Your Valentine!

Huntington State Beach. ©Paula Schultz -- http://paulasphotoart.smugmug.com/

A romantic stroll along Huntington State Beach. Photo ©Paula Schultz — paulasphotoart.smugmug.com

VALENTINE DATES IN STATE PARKS

In addition to hiking, picnicking, snowshoeing and beach combing, there are several events taking place in state parks that might make a great date with your valentine this holiday weekend:

  • Watch for bald eagles at the free Bald Eagle barge tours taking place at Silverwood Lake State Recreation Area on Saturdays at 9:00 a.m. through March. Please note that reservations are required and these popular tours sell out fast!
  • Head to Natural Bridges State Beach for the annual Beach Migration Festival — a full-day celebration of whales, butterflies, birds and the many creatures that travel.
  • Enjoy a special “Romance in the Redwoods” guided walk at Big Basin Redwoods State Park where you will learn about the courtship behaviors of banana slugs, redwood trees and other creatures found in the park.
  • Join the Tijuana Estuary Nature Preserve’s bi-weekly bird walk and learn about some of the 370 species of birds that live or stop by this Reserve on their yearly migration.
  • Watch for whales and other wildlife during Weekend Whale Talks at MacKerricher State Park.

Are you planning to enjoy the Valentine’s holiday in state parks? Join the conversation and share your Valentine’s Day ideas and state park photos on our Facebook page!

For more events taking place this month in state parks, please visit the Department of Parks and Recreation’s event page.

New Gardens Revitalize Rio de Los Angeles State Park

©When you think of Los Angeles, “serenity” probably isn’t the first word that comes to mind. The city has a reputation for smoggy skies and bumper-to-bumper traffic, and residents looking for a peaceful outdoor escape may think they need to leave town to find it. But what many locals don’t realize is that natural beauty and state parks can be found within city limits. Rio de Los Angeles is one such state park that offers access to hiking trails, recreation areas, wildlife, and more – and it’s only getting better.

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Rio de Los Angeles State Park. Photo Credit: © Margaret Oakley Otto

Located along the Los Angeles River (the “Rio de Los Angeles”) in the Glassell Park neighborhood of Northeast Los Angeles, the site of this state park was once used mainly for the maintenance and repair of railroad cars. Today, the park boasts sports fields, a playground, a recreation building, hiking trails, and places for gathering and taking a breather, like The Artist’s Bench, a tiled seating installation created by local artist Suzanne Siegel and students from Ara­gon Avenue Elementary School. And most recently, Park Stewards including CSPF’s Park Champions volunteers have embarked on the creation of four new gardens that will enhance the beauty of the park and the experiences of its visitors.

Rio de Los Angeles State Park, (c) Marygrace Lopez

The Artist’s Bench at Rio de Los Angeles.

The four gardens include a Sensory Garden, an Edible and Medicinal Garden, a Butterfly Garden, and a Bird Garden.

  • The Sensory Garden will encourage visitors to wander through and enjoy the scents of plants like native bay, mint, sage, and other aromatic species.
  • The Edible and Medicinal Garden will include plant species native to the Los Angeles basin that nourished and healed native peoples for thousands of years.
  • The Butterfly Garden will be planted with a variety of California native milkweed species as well as known host plants for southern California butterfly species.
  • The Bird Garden will be planted with berry and fruit producing shrubs to attract songbirds, and nectary flowering species to attract hummingbirds.
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Sage plants before planting in the Sensory Garden. Photo Credit: © Will Taylor, wtphoto.com.

The Sensory Garden was planted in December 2014 by Park Champions volunteers, and the other gardens will begin to take shape over the next two years.

“These native gardens are meant to unite the two goals of having native habitat to support the local ecosystem, and offering community enjoyment and interpretive opportunities to connect with the incredible character of California native plants,” says Margaret Oakley Otto, the Southern California Program Consultant for the Park Champions Program.

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Planting the Sensory Garden at a Park Champions volunteer workday. Photo Credit: © Will Taylor, wtphoto.com.

Stop by Rio today to see the progress and enjoy the many activities the park has to offer. And if you would like to join the efforts to improve Rio de Los Angeles State Park, check out the Park Champions volunteer calendar to sign up for upcoming workdays.

story BY CSPF Program Assistant Meredith Alling

SoCal Edison Supported Park Programs in 2014

As we kick off a new year, we want to reflect on some of the great work that happened in 2014. We want to express a big thank you to Southern California Edison for their support in 2014 for two great projects: Park Champions and Summer Learning.

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Park Champions
Southern California Edison supported 33 Park Champions projects across the Southern California Edison territory in 2014. Their generous financial assistance helped provide tools, plants, building materials and lunches for many volunteer projects including: 10 workdays at Baldwin Hills Scenic Overlook (habitat restoration & landscaping), 9 workdays at Rio de Los Angeles State Park (habitat restoration & landscaping), 7 workdays at Chino Hills State Park (trail building), 4 workdays at Mount San Jacinto State Park (trail building), and one workday each at Carpinteria State Beach (invasive plant removal and general clean-up), Channel Coast State Beach (repainting lifeguard headquarters), and Colonel Allensworth State Historic Park (painting and carpentry).

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Summer Learning
Southern California Edison also helped expand the day and overnight camping opportunities to youth in the Summer Learning program through the purchase of much needed outdoor equipment and teaching aides for park interpreters.

The expansion of the day and overnight camping opportunities was possible in four of the Summer Learning program locations in Southern California: LA,  Whittier,  San Bernardino and Santa Ana. The grant also paid for four bus trips for LA’s Best to go camping at San Clemente.

Thanks for a great year, Edison!

Time capsule opened in historic state park

It is not every day that you have the opportunity to open a time capsule. But on November 29, the Bidwell Mansion State Historic Park and the community of Chico got that chance.

An eager crowd of all ages gathered at the front of the mansion around 10 a.m. to see what people from the past wanted to pass on. The time capsule was discovered on November 4 this year when a construction crew was moving an Oregon Trail marker, which was placed there October 25, 1925.

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After a few minutes of waiting the contents were revealed. The box contained scrolls that were wrapped in some sort of vegetation. The staff did not want to open the scrolls right away, as not to expose the paper to the elements. The time capsule is now on display in the Visitor Center and is awaiting an expert to safely inspect what is inside. The information will become available once it has been analyzed.

What may be even more important than the contents of the capsule is the community that came out to see it. The mansion continues to be a social and cultural hub for the community. For example, throughout the year the local elementary schools in the Chico Unified School District come to the Bidwell Mansion to learn about local and California history.

The three-story, 26-room mansion was the home of pioneer General John Bidwell and his wife Annie Bidwell, a temperance leader and women’s suffrage advocate. The mansion was a social and cultural destination for many, including President Rutherford B. Hayes, General William Tecumseh Sherman, California Governor Leland Stanford, environmentalist John Muir, and women’s suffragist Susan B. Anthony.

California can only hope Bidwell Mansion is preserved for our future generations to gather, learn about, and embrace the historical community.

The Visitor Center is open Saturday through Monday from 11 a.m. to 5 p.m. Tours are held Saturday, Sunday, and Monday from 11 a.m. to 4 p.m.

story BY CSPF Senor membership assistant Ashley tittle

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