Recommendations for a Better Parks System

Yesterday, the Little Hoover Commission released a report on state parks titled “Beyond Crisis: Recapturing Excellence in California’s State Park System.” We at CSPF have been reading the report with great interest, and we think you should be interested, too.

But first … a little background on the Little Hoover Commission. It’s a 13-member independent state oversight agency appointed by the governor and Legislature. The commission investigates state government operations and writes reports and recommendations that promote efficiency, economy and improved service.

About a year ago, the commission began to look at the long-term vision of California state parks and the Department of Parks and Recreation (DPR). This was a lengthy process which included many hearings and interviews. CSPF staff testified several times before the commission.

The 120-page report was released Monday morning, and can be downloaded online.

The report is direct and comprehensive. The Executive Summary is quick to read and will give you a good flavor for the report. Some of the top level recommendations to the state include:California State Parks - cover page 1

  1. Develop a new vision for DPR.
  2. Assess which parks should remain state parks and which ones would be better transferred to local control.
  3. Enable state parks to generate more revenue with a more enterprise-based operating model.
  4. Commit General Fund support to DPR with flexibility for revenue generation and more transparent financial reporting.
  5. Develop incentives and performance measures reported in annual performance reports.
  6. Give DPR more flexibility to hire and promote a range of skilled employees.

CSPF agrees with the commission’s top-level recommendations for the future direction of California’s state parks. We find the call for a new vision for parks very consistent with our 2011 report: “A Vision for Excellence for California State Parks.” It was also consistent with the testimony that CSPF gave before the commission.

Read our full statement about the report online.

We are excited to see what comes next for state parks, and we at CSPF plan to continue to be there to represent as your voice for state parks. What do you think about the report? Let us know in the comments.

Here’s to a positive future for our parks!

Memories from Montaña de Oro State Park

A guest post BY JOSH MCNAIR

Josh is a blogger and photographer that is currently attempting to travel and photograph the state of California with his blog He also loves to go on adventures and hikes and chronicles them on the adventure blog

I love visiting California’s beautiful state parks as they are diverse collections of the extraordinary beauty that is found all over this state. I even have a list of all the parks in my office with the hope that I may one day check them all off. While I have traveled extensively in California, one of the parks I had heard the least about has became one of my favorites, Montaña de Oro. Montaña de Oro, located south of Morro Bay and West of San Luis Obispo, is a beautiful example of what pristine, untouched coastline can look like (we never see this in Southern California). It has miles of trails, acres of beaches to relax on and a leisurely style that beckons you come and enjoy yourself. My favorite place to visit here is the Bluffs Trail as it walks the coastline for about two miles and creates fantastic vistas one after another as you are walking. Here are my favorite parts of this trail in Montaña de Oro State Park.

bluffs trail 1This first picture demonstrates the amazing way the water has worked on the rocks to create these unique inlets. As the tide goes up and the years move on, the water does its part to create art that can now be seen in these rock structures. I also love the way the green juxtaposes with the blues of the ocean and the browns of the rock. bluffs trail 2

A little further down the trail there are a series of steps that lead to a small beach and a large collection of tide pools. Again, in Southern California, these tide pools would have been crawling with people, but up in this park they were practically vacant, which allowed us to see everything from starfish to sea slugs. It was awesome to be able to see a habitat like this so untouched.

bluffs trail 3If you are feeling more adventurous there are a bunch of inlets where you can climb down and relax on the beach. Beaches like the above picture even provide opportunities to swim out and check out the small arches and little caves located right off the shoreline in the rock formations. Even during the end of summer when I was there, there were only about a dozen people relaxing on the beach.

bluffs trail 4

My last memory about Montaña de Oro was coming to the end of the bluffs trail. This rock that jutted out of the bluffs created a unique picture against the ocean crashing behind it. While the picture makes it look small, this rock was big enough to hold me for a picture that I still have hanging up in my house. It is a great place to just relax and realize how small you are in the grand scheme of things.

I loved my time at this park and always tell others to visit. It is a beautifully preserved example of California’s rich beaches and a great place to take a family vacation. I would love to hear your thoughts in the comments if you have been here and enjoyed yourself as much as I did. You can read my full post with directions to the trail on my site