A Day in the Life: Earth Day Volunteer

Our Earth Day Restoration and Cleanup Event is next Saturday, April 16. We need volunteers to join us to work on much-needed improvement projects at 27 state parks across California. Join us for a great day outdoors in a park working side by side with fellow community members to make a real difference this Earth Day.

If you are still debating whether or not to volunteer, here’s what your Earth Day might be like if you sign up (hint: it will be awesome).

8:30am – 9am: You arrive at the park (following directions from the website) and park for free (!) because we appreciate our volunteers. You follow signs to the check in table head over to register, sign a waiver and say hello.

While other volunteers get registered, you enjoy some graciously-donated coffee from Peet’s Coffee and breakfast treats from Fruit Guys, Nature’s Path, and Lundenberg.

9am – The event organizers kick off the event! They welcome all the volunteers, give a safety talk, and explain the projects for the day. If there is more than one project, you pick the one that sounds good to you and join that group. Grab some gloves and tools and get ready to work!

9:30am – 12:30pm – You get work done! You help your team with the projects, get to know people, enjoy being outside, and have a great time.

12:30 pm – You did it! Look around and take in the improvements you made. Then gather together with the team to enjoy some lunch from SUBWAY Restaurants, and maybe get some fun prizes like Chipotle.

 

So what do you say? Will you join us next Saturday in a park near you?

See a map of the parks, read project descriptions, and register to volunteer online. Registration will close early next week, so sign up today!

 

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.

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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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

Volunteer Profile: Anchor Brewing at China Camp State Park

anchor_volunteersWe are extremely lucky to have amazing volunteers who participate in our Park Champions Program. Park Champions is our ongoing volunteer program for which we coordinate several volunteer projects at state parks all over California each month. Small groups of volunteers work incredibly hard and make substantial and tangible changes in just a few hours.

Check out some of the photo highlights on our Flickr page. You’ll notice that hard work is always rewarded with seriously delicious lunches.

One recent volunteer day at China Camp State Park brought out a group from Anchor Brewing Company, a great partner to CSPF. They wrote about their experience on the Anchor Brewing Blog:

On a brisk, clear day in late November, a group of Anchor employees gathered at one of California’s many beautiful state parks to help build an outdoor education classroom. The volunteer event took place at China Camp State Park, located along the shore of San Francisco Bay in Marin County, just north of the City. The day’s tasks included painting a base coat on a decommissioned water tank (where students will soon be painting a mural), assembling a new fence, and stripping bark off of logs that will be converted into a climbing structure. The collaborative effort of the Anchor volunteers and state park staff helped revitalize this part of the park that students and teachers will soon be able to utilize for a multitude of outdoor educational activities.

The event was the second volunteer day for Anchor employees in collaboration with the California State Parks Foundation (CSPF). Anchor’s partnership with CSPF was launched in February 2013 with the release of Anchor California Lager®. California’s state parks system, Anchor’s history, and California’s first genuine lager were all born in the second half of the 19th century, and as a tribute to our shared history and traditions, a partnership seemed natural to us.

Read more of their post at: anchorbrewing.com/blog/anchor-brewing-volunteer-day-at-china-camp-state-park/

A big thank you to the Anchor folks for their hard work and their ongoing support of CSPF!

If you are the beer drinking kind, remember that Anchor donates a portion of the proceeds from sales of California Lager to CSPF, so be sure to give it a try.

For information about how you can volunteer with our Park Champions Program, visit our website and find an upcoming workday near you.  We would greatly appreciate your help!

Happy Earth Day

We are feeling a little extra love for our state parks today … today being officially Earth Day.

We say officially because last Saturday, April 13, we had CSPF’s Annual Earth Day Restoration and Cleanup. We hold this event every year in which we coordinate projects in state parks across the state and bring out awesome sponsors and volunteers to work in their local park for the afternoon.

This year we had Earth Day events at 24 state parks. 2,580 volunteers came out to work in those parks, and they did an incredible job! The volunteers planted 116 native trees and 1,740 native plants. They also removed a lot of non-native plants: 402 bags, 902 cubic yards, 3,000 square feet, 975 gallons, 8 truckloads and 10 tarps full. Not to mention 408 bags of trash and 49 bags of recycling.

See them in action:

We are so grateful for our volunteers and sponsors. A big thank you to PG&E, Chevron, Oracle, SoCal Gas, Edison, Virgin America, Chipotle Mexican Grill, KIND Healthy Snacks, Peet’s Coffee & Tea, Starbucks Coffee and The Fruit Guys.

Happy Earth Day all!

CSPF’s Earth Day is this Saturday

Ashley Cookerly, Richard Cookerly

Just helping the earth over here

This Saturday, April 13, hundreds of Californians will get out of bed early, throw on an old pair of jeans, and head to their local state park to volunteer at our 16th annual Earth Day Restoration & Clean Up presented by PG&E. It’s one of our most fun events of the year, and we are looking forward to it!

We think there’s no better way to celebrate Earth Day than by getting out to a park you love and get your hands a little dirty planting seeds, pulling weeds, building fences, painting railings and fixing up campsites. Plus, it’s cool to know that there will be folks all across the state at 24 different parks working towards the same good cause.

Most of our 24 sites filled to capacity (because our volunteers are awesome!) but a few sites still have open space. Consider walking up to volunteer at one of these parks Saturday morning:

  • Auburn State Recreation Area
  • Benicia State Recreation Area
  • Doheny State Beach
  • Jack London State Historic Park
  • Mt. Tamalpais State Park
  • Picacho State Recreation Area
  • San Clemente State Beach
  • San Onofre State Beach
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These could be your helping hands

We are, of course, extremely grateful to our Earth Day sponsors whose generous contributions of grants, volunteers and in-kind donations make this event possible. PG&E, our presenting statewide sponsor, provided $210,000 to fund project sites across the state. Our other awesome sponsors include Chevron, Oracle, Southern California Gas Company, Edison International and Virgin America. Our in-kind sponsors providing fuel to our hungry volunteers are Chipotle Mexican Grill, KIND Healthy Snacks, Peet’s Coffee & Tea, Starbucks Coffee, Noah’s Bagels and The Fruit Guys. Yummy stuff!

So we’ll see you bright and early Saturday morning, earth lovers!

In 2013 I Will Volunteer in a California State Park

Volunteer

It’s a new year, which for many means a time to write a list of resolutions to improve ones self and become a better person. One of the noblest resolutions is to spend more time volunteering in the coming year.

Volunteering is usually a feel-good activity no matter where you spend your time. But we at the California State Parks Foundation think the most feel-good place to volunteer is in the great outdoors. You can’t beat the feeling of sun on your skin and ocean breeze in your hair while you help make the park you love more beautiful for other visitors like you.

So as part of your New Year’s resolution, consider adding “Volunteer in state parks” to the list. One great way to help is through our Park Champions Program. There will be plenty of work days throughout 2013 so be sure to check the calendar!

Happy New Year!

Volunteers Head to Malibu Creek

“Service to others is the rent you pay for your room here on Earth.”
–Muhammad Ali

Malibu Creek State Park is a popular Santa Monica park that has been the set for many TV shows and movies, including M*A*S*H, Planet of the Apes, Love Me Tender, Butch Cassidy and the Sundance Kid, and Pleasantville.  Although it looks great on the big screen, these days it needs a little extra TLC to maintain it in all its glory.

Malibu Creek State Park
Photo © Brent Durand

Thankfully, we have a throng of awesome volunteers heading to Malibu Creek this Saturday to fix it up. It’s all part of our Annual Earth Day Restoration & Cleanup event.  Normally our Earth Day takes place in April, but this year we had to reschedule due to heavy spring rains.  We are glad the big day has finally arrived!

Volunteers, Edison International employees, park rangers, CSPF staff and Malibu Creek Docents will all work together to restore the lawn by planting several hundred native grasses and plants, remove other non-native plants and conduct general cleanup of the Visitor Center area. This is a great opportunity to do this clean-up because in a few weeks there will be water in the creek. They will also be putting up a temporary fence to protect the plants from the deer while they are getting established.

We are very grateful to Edison International, whose grant has made this day possible. (Volunteer registration is full.)

CSPF Annual Earth Day Restoration and Cleanup 

Statewide, thousands of volunteers each year plant native trees and community gardens, restore trails and wildlife habitats, remove trash and debris from beaches and parklands and make overdue repairs to fences and boardwalks. Since its inception in 1998, CSPF’s Earth Day Restoration & Cleanup program has resulted in — 76,000 participants contributing more than 305,000 volunteer hours worth over $6 million in park maintenance and improvements.  Additionally, the program has awarded more than $1.35 million to state parks throughout California.

Our next Earth Day is scheduled for April 13.  Stayed tuned for opportunities to register as a volunteer at a state park near you! http://calparks.org/programs/earth-day/

Vandals?! Volunteers to the rescue!

The aftermath. Hard to look at. Photo credit: Christina Vargas

We were very sad when, only days after 160 volunteers spent their Earth Day working in Candlestick Point State Recreation Area with us, we heard that vandals had broken into the park’s community garden and destroyed it.  They ruined gardening tools and thousands of native plants, including some that had been growing for years and were supposed to be planted in the nearby Yosemite Slough in order to help restore the sensitive wetlands.The damage also reversed most of the work done by our Earth Day volunteers.

After the shock wore off (Why?! It’s so horrible!) we realized these vandals shouldn’t win, and we started mobilizing to do something.

Our partners at PG&E, Literacy for Environmental Justice, Virgin America and Oracle all stepped up and agreed to schedule a new volunteer workday to undo the damage that had been done. The workday is taking place tomorrow (Saturday, June 2) and it’s going to be awesome! Volunteers from these organizations will replant native plants, fix community garden boxes and work to remove the old fence around the garden.

Why remove the fence? Because PG&E has generously donated $15,000 of additional funding to build a new, more secure perimeter fence around the garden to help keep something like this from happening again. Read more about that here.

If you’d like to join these awesome volunteers tomorrow morning, we’d love to have you. Please register on our website.

If you’d like to help but can’t come to Candlestick, you can do something right now by donating to the cause. Donations to help fix the garden can be made on our website.  Also be sure to “like” PG&E’s Facebook page, because for every like, they will donate $1 to this project.

Take that, vandals!