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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Great Places Photo Challenge Wrap Up

A photograph taken at a state park can inspire others to experience for themselves why California’s State Parks are Great Places.

That’s why CSPF asked our members and Facebook fans to participate in our “End Your Summer in a Great Place Photo Challenge.” During the Challenge, participants uploaded their favorite state park photos to our Facebook page. Each week during the Challenge, a randomly selected photographer was awarded a prize package from CSPF’s online store, and at the conclusion of the End Your Summer in a Great Place Photo Challenge, we awarded first, second and third place prizes to the photographers whose photos had received the most votes on Facebook.

Photo Challenge Winners

Thank you to everyone who participated in the End Your Summer in a Great Places Photo Challenge!

Photo Challenge Submissions

Our Heritage, Our Parks: Meet Raul

RAUL MACIAS

“You can’t just create a park and then leave it. No. You have to care for it and improve it for the future. This park, our park, has a plan for the future.” – Raul Macias

Raul-MaciasRaul Macias is an affable man with an easy smile and an engaging laugh. But when it comes to Rio de Los Angeles State Park and the future of Los Angeles’ youth, he is intense and serious. Raul grew up in Guadalajara, Mexico, moved to Los Angeles some 30 years ago and became a successful businessman. He also founded the award winning Anahuak Youth Sports Association, a non-profit children’s sports organization dedicated to providing underserved youth with active recreational opportunities to keep them healthy, engaged and away from gangs.

“I started getting involved in 2002 because my business is next to what is now the park,” says Macias. “When they started planning factories and industry for the site, I worked with my community to take a position on these proposed developments. And after a lot of work, and a lot of meetings, State Parks took over the site and told everyone they could help design it.”

At one point, Macias recalls while laughing, “My wife and daughter said, ‘Why bother coming home? Just take your pillow so you can stay longer at the planning meetings!’”

“You know, Rio de Los Angeles State Park is one of the most important—if not the most important—urban parks in the city,” he said. “It benefits the entire city, but especially the local community. And yet, we have a lot of work to do. I want to get my community back to being close to nature. Many of them work hard all day, maybe play some soccer, go home, and do that all over again. Some of them take this park for granted. I tell them no, don’t do that. Every day you have to do something for this park. Every day you have to learn a little bit more about not only this park but also other parks and open spaces. If you have the right to vote, you have to pay attention to these things in your community.”

Our Heritage, Our Parks: Take a Hike!

The Midpeninsula Regional Open Space District is celebrating Hispanic Heritage Month with a free, docent-led hike in Spanish.

Enjoy the fall colors and celebrate Hispanic Heritage Month! On this 5-mile, Spanish-language hike, you will learn about some of the common plants and animals that live in this beautiful preserve.

Midpen Hispanic Heritage Celebration and October 2014 Events_Page_1For more information, visit www.openspace.org/activities

Our Heritage, Our Parks: Meet Irma

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IRMA R. MUÑOZ

“My love and deep appreciation for parks comes from the wonderful childhood memories of having a paradise where I could play, dream, run, laugh and explore nature. I want the same ‘paradises’ to always be available, especially to children and youth.”
–Irma Muñoz

Irma Muñoz is a community builder, activist, advocate, and instiller of confidence and hope. Born and raised in Los Angeles, Irma is one of seven sisters. She was brought up in a home with strong family values, an unwavering commitment to education and a deep respect for their Mexican heritage and cultural traditions.

She is the Founder/President of Mujeres de la Tierra, a non-traditional environmental non-profit in Los Angeles.

Mujeres de la Tierra inspires and teaches women and their children to take ownership and leadership of neighborhood issues and challenges. One of the main goals is to identify holistic and practical approaches to solving local environmental issues by balancing efforts to address environmental woes with the needs of family survival.  Mujeres supports the building of healthier and sustainable neighborhoods through public engagement and individual participation.

Irma is an avid supporter and advocate of open space and a state park advocate; inspiring hundreds of park users to take an active role in restoration and beautification efforts. As a member of the Latino Coalition, her advocacy work contributed to the passage of the statewide ban on plastic bags, an accomplishment finally realized after eight long years. She also serves on the Santa Monica Mountains Conservancy Board of Directors, serving as Board Chair in 2013. Governor Jerry Brown appointed her to the Los Angeles Regional Water Quality Board where she serves as Vice Chair.

In 2010, 2011 and 2012, Irma was named a “community champion” by the Annenberg Foundation for excellence in leadership in Los Angeles County and honored by Senator Curren Price as a “SheHero” for her role in improving the health of families in Senatorial District 26. In 2011, the California State Parks Foundation named her “Park Hero” in their 2011 Annual Report.

Her work with Mujeres de la Tierra has been featured in Newsweek Earth Day 2009, the November 2008 issue of O, Oprah Magazine and was named in Hispanic Business Magazine’s 100 Influential Hispanics in October 2008 and La Opinion’s Mujeres Destacadas 2007 community award for leadership.

Irma Muñoz attended El Camino Community College and earned a Bachelor of Arts degree from the University of California, San Diego and a Juris Doctorate from Thomas Jefferson School of Law in San Diego.