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!

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

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!

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!

Guest Post: Full-Time RVing, Public Parks and Photography


Levonne is an artist and author of several blogs about her family’s three-year relocation adventure from the U.S. southwest to California during the Great Recession. During that period, they volunteered as park caretakers and campground hosts and lived in some of California’s public parks.

Hearst Castle © Levonne Gaddy

My husband John and I have lived in our thirty-foot Jazz fifth-wheel trailer for three years. If it had not been for beautiful public parks, my sacred camera and my equally sacred laptop computer, I don’t know that I could have made it.

Our original plan when we hit the road three years ago was to find meaningful work and a community that we would love on the Central California coast. We left a comfortable home, jobs and a known community to relocate after fifteen years in the U.S. Southwest. We left in the midst of the 2008 Great Recession.

Having been enthusiastic recreational vehicle campers to Central Coast California for over twenty years, we felt adequately qualified to decide that we wanted to be permanent California residents. Our positive exposure to camp hosts in public parks over the years led us to pursue volunteer camp host jobs as a way to give something back to the communities we loved and to anchor us in our transition.

Camp host duties usually include providing campers with information, doing camp checks to make sure visitors have paid their fees, staffing visitor centers and museums and general cleanup around campgrounds. Most hosts work approximately 20 hours a week and in exchange are provided with a full-hookup campsite during their stay.

Annadel © Levonne Gaddy

When we arrived in California in the fall of 2009, a state budget was being negotiated. A partial remedy for the $26.3 billion state budget deficit was a plan to close 220 state parks.

John and I were quite happy when funds were found to keep the state parks open. We were able to live-on volunteer at several parks including Oceano State Park in the Pismo Beach area, Morro Strand State Beach in Morro Bay and Pfeiffer Big Sur State Park in Big Sur.

As fulltime RVers and California parks volunteers, I took great pleasure in photographing the beauty of the parks and in writing about our experiences in my blogs at www.levonnegaddy.com.

I am currently engaged in a campaign to raise funds so that I may turn stories and pictures into a book that I will use to raise awareness about California parks. In addition to park closures, there are other very real challenges. Some of those challenges are habitat destruction by overuse; protection of native species at the expense of recreation; and reclaiming industrial brown fields to create new parks in dense urban areas.

In September (2012), current Governor Jerry Brown signed a bill that averted closures yet again. AB 1478 placed a two-year moratorium on state park closures. That means that in less than a year and a half, closures will be at issue once more. I am happy to do my part to help save our wonderful public spaces in California.

Pfeiffer Big Sur © Levonne Gaddy

You may go to California State Parks Foundation http://www.calparks.org/takeaction/parkclosures/ to learn what you can do to help save our parks.

To learn more about my book project, please see “This Restless Life: a study of Central Coast California parks through photography, interpretive collage and stories” on Kickstarter.

50% (up to $1,000) of the amount raised over Levonne’s funding goal will go to California State Parks Foundation. Be sure to check out Kickstarter!

Join us for an online forum on “Saving Our State Parks”

Click to register!

California Preservation Foundation and California State Parks Foundation are offering a FREE online forum, “Saving Our State Parks,” on Tuesday, September 18 at 12 p.m. This online forum is open to the public.

Registration is FREE so sign up now to reserve your spot!

According to the Department of Parks and Recreation, 235 of California’s 279 state park units contain significant cultural resource features. These resources are currently at risk due to the ongoing budget crisis impacting California’s state parks.

CSPF’s VP of Government Affairs Traci Verardo-Torres will provide an overview as to why California’s state parks are at risk, what is being done to address the problem, and how organizations and individuals can get involved in efforts to Save Our State Parks.

The presentation will be followed by a question and answer session. If you have a specific question you would like to submit ahead of time please email it to Jennifer Gates at jgates@californiapreservation.org.

For additional information or questions please contact California Preservation Foundation at cpf@californiapreservation.org or call 415-495-0349.

Guest Post: This State Park is Pure Gold


David Slack is the Accounting Manager in the California State Parks Foundation’s San Francisco office. He fell in love with Plumas-Eureka after a visit this spring and is now frequently spotted wearing his Plumas-Eureka State Park Foundation shirt around the office.  This is his take on his new favorite park.

I recently found myself at the Plumas-Eureka State Park for my second and third visit this summer.

Gary (left) and David (right)

For the past several years I have been spending more time in the Greaegle/Portola area of the Tahoe Mountains, and when I saw the Plumas-Eureka State Park was on the state parks closure list, I thought I should check it out before it was too late.

Our first visit to the Plumas-Eureka State Park was around Memorial Day this year, when we had company visiting. We intended to see more of the park, but once we arrived at the museum we were so fascinated with the history of the formation of the surrounding mountains, as well as the exhibits, stories and photos of the Gold Miners who flocked to this area in the mid-1800s to try to strike it rich, we spent several hours just around the museum itself.

The main museum has a variety of displays focused on the local animals, rocks and minerals, as well as the gold mining that made many a man rich for their efforts.

There is a mining machinery display, a mill and a blacksmith shop, as well as photos and stories of life in the 1840s and 1850s in this area near Johnsonville, CA.

Mining machinery at Plumas-Eureka

It’s free to visit the park and the museum for a day, however, if you’d like to stay at one of the 67 campsites, there is a nominal charge for that. You can even go gold panning for a day for $4.

The following week we had different company, and brought them to the museum to share what we’d found, where we began speaking with Pat O’Reilly, an interpreter with the park. He said he was leading a hike the next day, and we made plans to go along.

The next day Pat led us along the Eureka Peak Trail Loop. It was a bit over 1.5 miles, and we saw Mountain Quail, White Headed Woodpeckers and Olive Sided Flycatchers.

He also pointed out Lodgepole Pines, Western White Pines, Scolars willows, and huge sugar pine cones. The Lake itself was so still and quite. What a sight.

Once we were back at the museum, we stared speaking with one of the Docents, and we were happy to learn that the Plumas-Eureka State Park Foundation was attempting to raise enough monies to keep the park open for another year. After such a fun time, I had to join the Association.

Jamison Creek

On our way out of the park, we found another picnic area on Jamison Creek, where the water was crystal clear, and cold as ice. We couldn’t help but kicking off our shoes and dipping our feet in.

What a fun trip.

Have you been to Plumas-Eureka State Park?

Closing Parks is Bad for Business

It’s Memorial Day weekend, but with park closures looming, we aren’t looking forward to the unofficial start of summer as much as usual. Neither is a group of businesses that has formed a coalition to oppose the closure of state parks. These folks know that park closures will negatively impact California’s economy (not to mention put a damper on future Memorial Days).

That’s why the coalition representing over 10,000 businesses throughout California urged the governor in a letter today to continue funding the parks for the good of the state’s economic well being. Read the letter here.

Organizations that oppose the closure of state parks include:

  •     California Association of Bed and Breakfast Inns
  •     California Hotel & Lodging Association
  •     California Ski Industry Association
  •     California Travel Association
  •     San Francisco Travel Association
  •     Southwest California Legislative Council
  •     El Dorado County Chamber of Commerce
  •     Lake Elsinore Valley Chamber of Commerce
  •     Lake Tahoe Visitors Authority
  •     Murrieta Chamber of Commerce
  •     Regional Black Chamber of Commerce of San Fernando Valley (RBCC)
  •     Santa Clara Chamber of Commerce & Convention-Visitor’s Bureau
  •     Simi Valley Chamber of Commerce
  •     Temecula Valley Chamber of Commerce
  •     Wildomar Chamber of Commerce
  •     Palm Springs Desert Resort Communities Convention and Visitors Authority
  •     San Luis Obispo County Visitors & Conference Bureau
  •     Santa Cruz County Conference and Visitors Council

“Closing Parks is Bad for Business” sign spotted at Cafe Aquatica in Jenner

Why are they supporting state parks? Because parks generate more than $6 billion in economic benefit to the state as a whole. More than 65 million visits are made to state parks annually and average park visitors spend $42 per day on items related to their park visit. This spending supports an estimated 56,000 jobs across the state; jobs that translate into a total labor income of $2.3 billion each year, which is recirculated in local economies. 48 of California’s 58 counties are home to state parks and depend on revenues generated by park support and visitation.

“Closing Parks is Bad for Business” sign spotted at Benzinger Winery in Sonoma

Thank you to these businesses for recognizing the importance of state parks to California and for stepping up on their behalf.  If you own a business and would like to get involved with the coalition, please visit our Save Our State Parks website.

The Closing Parks is Bad for Business Campaign is a targeted effort of the Save Our State Parks Campaign, a grassroots campaign managed by CSPF in partnership with organizations, businesses, local governments, and individuals around the state, that aims to highlight the impacts of park closures on businesses throughout California. 

California’s State Parks: Recreation for Everyone

California’s richly diverse state parks give us all the chance to step back from our frenzied modern lives to refresh and restore ourselves in some of the most beautiful places on earth.

Henry Coe State Park is one such park that offers a spectacular recreational playground for people of all ages. With its vast and rugged landscape stretching across 90,000 acres, it is the second-largest state park in CA. A park so close to large metropolitan areas, one can escape to Henry Coe for horseback riding, mountain biking, exploring trails, hiking, connecting with nature and more.

Henry Coe is one of 70 California state parks on the park closure list. Though it will be kept open for now with a temporary operating agreement, it and 69 other parks are threatened to be lost to Californians for good.

To learn more about how you can help save California state parks like Henry Coe, visit calparks.org/defend.

This video is part of The Magnificent 70 project. See more at mag70.calparks.org.

Produced by Doug McConnell and Convergence Media. Music by Jenny Lloyd.

Volunteer for Earth Day with David Chokachi

Chokachi for Earth Day

CSPF and our friend David Chokachi invite you to help state parks this Earth Day by volunteering with us in a park near you.

This year is our 15th Annual Earth Day Restoration & Cleanup on Saturday April 14, 2012. We have volunteer projects planned at state parks all across the state. In a time of budget cuts and staff shortfalls, Earth Day provides an opportunity to get involved in your local community, while helping state parks with long overdue maintenance and improvement projects.

You can register online at calparks.org/earthday or by phone at 1-888-98-PARKS. Come join in the tradition and help preserve California’s state parks.

But don’t take our word for it. David will tell you!

A picture is worth … a visit to a park

Long-time State Park Photo Contestant and park supporter Cynthia Leeder has been snapping photos of state parks for years (check out her photos here). She recently learned that her photos of her favorite state park, Henry Coe, have had more of an impact than she realized. She shared her inspiring story with CSPF:

The picture that launched a thousand ships. © Cynthia Leeder

“I recently attended a public meeting held by Sheila Golden, the former park interpreter for Henry Coe State Park.  Sheila is now attending graduate school at UC Davis and is putting together a master plan for Henry Coe State Park for her thesis.  This plan is required by the state before anything can be done to the park in terms of improvements for interpretation and the like.

As part of that effort Sheila developed a survey for park visitors asking how they heard of the park and why they came to the park and things like that.  I found out at the meeting that some respondents indicated they first heard of Henry Coe and came to the park because of the California State Parks Foundation calendar where a picture of mine was published.

Another gem from Henry Coe. © Cynthia Leeder

I love Henry Coe with all my heart.  It really is a special park, often rough scrabble and broken down, in need of everything, but Henry Coe makes me feel good inside when I am there.  I am not a religious person but the feeling of being up on the Ponderosa Loop towards sunset with the sound of a breeze blowing through the stands of Ponderosa Pines is nothing less than spiritual and renewing.  You have to experience it.  There is nothing like it and fits perfectly with the inscription Sada Coe had placed on the Coe Monument, ‘May these quiet hills bring peace to the souls of those who are seeking.’

To survive for the long term, the park needs more visitors and if my pictures can help promote Henry Coe and bring people to the park, then I feel like I have done something!”

Cynthia has been giving more to state parks than just her photographs, and it seems she is getting some great fulfillment in return.

“I am starting my third year as uniformed volunteer at Henry Coe.  I have already achieved Senior Volunteer status.  I often work the visitor center meeting the park visitors, suggesting hikes, and helping the backpackers plan their trips into the park.  I am loving it!”  

Thank you to Cynthia for your dedication to state parks!

Do you take photos in state parks, too? Upload them to our free photo contest or our Facebook page; we’d love to see them!