CA State Budget Funds New Outreach and Engagement Project at Urban State Parks

Over the summer, Governor Brown signed the 2016-17 Fiscal Year State Budget, which includes funding for several initiatives near and dear to CSPF’s heart. This is part two of a three-part series taking an in-depth look at these projects to tell the story of why advocacy for state parks matters. #advocacymatters #yourvoiceforparks

Last month we “dug” into how special funds allocated in the new budget will bring solar energy to Malakoff Diggins State Historic Park after a four-year effort.

This month we want to tell you about another budget victory that is enabling the Department of Parks and Recreation (DPR) to develop and implement a two-year Community Liaison Pilot Project at two of the largest urban state parks in California, Candlestick Point State Recreation Area in San Francisco and Los Angeles State Historic Park.

We believe that the future of California’s state park system depends on engaging more Californians, and developing greater awareness and support for parks among diverse communities. This program will help DPR increase engagement with established community-based organizations and nonprofit groups. Together they will be able to conduct outreach and engage local community members in the creation of culturally relevant interpretive and environmental programming at these parks. You can learn more about the program objectives and deliverables on the DPR Transformation Blog.

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New bird nesting island at Candlestick Point State Recreation Area created during Yosemite Slough Phase 1 Wetlands Restoration.

CSPF has played a critical role in the development of both Candlestick Point State Recreation Area (CPSRA) and Los Angeles State Historic Park (LASHP) and is excited about this new project and its potential to provide more meaningful park experiences to more people.

At CPSRA, CSPF led a 2003 feasibility study that showed restoration of the 34-acre Yosemite Slough area of the park would be beneficial for the entire bay and resulted in a three-phase Yosemite Slough Restoration Plan. In 2012, CSPF completed the Phase 1 wetlands restoration and environmental cleanup on the north side of Yosemite Slough. Phase 2, for which we recently completed fundraising, will create a “green” education center, trails, nature viewing and recreation areas, parking and restroom facilities, and other amenities to make the 21 acres of parklands restored during Phase 1 accessible for public use and enjoyment. In addition, CSPF is collaborating with DPR and other key partners and community groups to develop rich place-based educational programs for CPSRA. Learn more here.

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Design rendering of the new Los Angeles State Historic Park currently under construction.

The land for Los Angeles State Historic Park (LASHP) was acquired by DPR in December 2001. Since that time, CSPF has been instrumental in the creation of the park’s master plan and has supported the development of a groundbreaking interactive interpretive program for its welcome center. The park is not yet fully open to the public but is anticipated to be completed in Spring 2017.

Learn More and Plan Your Visit

Candlestick Point State Recreation Area is located in the southeast part of the city and county of San Francisco, adjacent to the site of the former Candlestick Park stadium. As California’s first urban state park, Candlestick Point is readily accessible to over 4 million local residents.

The park offers beautiful views of the San Francisco Bay, with picnic areas, fishing piers, a fitness course for seniors, and hiking and biking trails. The park also has an area popular with windsurfers.

Los Angeles State Historic Park includes 32 acres of open space directly adjacent to Chinatown. Once the park opens, visitors will have access to walking paths with views of downtown and interpretive opportunities to discover and celebrate the natural and cultural heritage of Los Angeles.

The Bowtie Parcel Offers Inspiring Community Space in Los Angeles

 

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The Bowtie Parcel. Photo by Michelle White

GUEST BLOG BY PARK CHAMPIONS CORE LEADER MICHELLE WHITE

 

In central Los Angeles, adjacent to Rio de Los Angeles State Park, lies a bowtie-shaped piece of land that feels simultaneously scruffy and tranquil. Known as the Bowtie Parcel, these 18 acres of post-industrial land reside within the former Taylor Yard, a Southern Pacific Railroad service facility.

The Bowtie, acquired by California State Parks in 2003, reveals the potential of imagination and transformation, akin to New York’s High Line, a rail line transformed into a landscaped urban paseo with Hudson River and skyscraper views. Within such dense metropolises, the ability to consciously redevelop once-blighted space and bring more nature to city dwellers reflects the substantial impact of space upon social relations. As Luis Rincon, Community Engagement Coordinator for California State Parks, says, “The health and vitality of a community depend on its green space, its open space.”

Setting foot into the Bowtie immediately evokes the immense variety and messy juxtaposition of nature and urbanity that represents Los Angeles as a whole, and the history of its river. White noise from not-too-distant freeways meets the rush of the river. Carefully-designed “earthworks” and interpretive signage meet furtively-scrawled graffiti. Bikers whizz by on land, while ducks cruise by on the water. Non-native fountain grass and Mexican fan palms meet and overtake decomposed asphalt, displaying nature’s uncanny ability to reclaim over time. Fragrant native plants white sage and yerba santa meet the vaguely chlorinated smell of the river. Concrete banks meet soft-bottom riverbed.

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The Bowtie Parcel. Photo by Michelle White

With the July 2015 passage of a $1.3-billion plan to revitalize the LA River, now pending approval from the Army Corps of Engineers and Congress, the Bowtie is already unique in its placement along the soft-bottom Glendale Narrows section of the river. In these 11 miles roughly between the 134 and 110 freeways, cement never set over the high water table, so while channelization severely disrupted the riparian habitat, wildlife returned to this area over time. Concrete still slopes down to the water, but Arundo donax (giant cane), an invasive grass from Southeast Asia, grows along the water in lush abundance, softening the scene – and preventing erosion. Herons, cormorants, egrets, carp and green sunfish call the river home. It’s an unexpected oasis.

Due to placement of the railroad adjacent to the LA River in the 1870s and channelization of the river in the 1930s, LA has remained fundamentally disconnected from its river as a recreational amenity for more than a century. However, groups such as Friends of the LA River, Play LA River, the Army Corps of Engineers, and the arts organization Clockshop have all worked to revitalize sections of the river.

In particular, Clockshop installed land art and interpretive signage at the Bowtie, working with LA-based artists and Woodbury Architecture for Civic Engagement (ACE) students, and facilitated events such as moonlit poetry readings, rain barrel workshops and urban campouts.

This past weekend Clockshop in partnership with California State Parks and the National Park Service, hosted an LA River Campout at the Bowtie. The popular reoccurring event offers Angelenos the opportunity to spend the night at the Bowtie, complete with dinner, campfire programming, and a survey of local flora and fauna. The Bowtie provides a central city setting to learn about LA’s abundant nature coexisting with the concrete, and to connect with community. As Rincon sums up, “The space is there, but when you add the people and the energy, it makes it come alive.”

Find more about the Bowtie, Clockshop and the LA River Campout here.

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

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.”

Know Your History, Know Your Parks – Part 3

CSPF’s third Hidden Stories Series conference, Folding Back the Layers of California’s Latino/a History: The Stories Beneath the Stories, is taking place on October 2 and 3 in Los Angeles … just in time for Hispanic Heritage Month! Hispanic Heritage Month runs from September 15 through October 15.

The 2013 Hidden Stories conference will explore Latino history in the context of California’s state parks. This conference seeks to go beyond existing interpretation of historical Latino figures to look at “the stories beneath the stories,” or going beyond what is commonly known in order to uncover how these figures shaped our history, influenced our society, and left permanent, although unrecognized, impressions on our state.

Find out more info…

SNEAK PEEK: Ranchos Camulos

One Hidden Stories presenter, Margie Brown-Coronel, Ph.D., gave us some awesome factoids as a preview to the conference:

  • Rancho Camulos (located on border of Los Angeles and Ventura Counties) has had only two owners since its original Mexican Land Grant in 1839 – the del Valle Family and the Rubel Family. Today it is a National Historic Landmark and open to the public part of the week.
  • The large family portrait used in the conference promotional literature was taken at Rancho Camulos. The event was one of many family barbeques that the del Valle family hosted from the late 1860s to the early twentieth century. The original photo can be found at the Seaver Center for Western Research at Natural History Museum of Los Angeles County.

Find out more about Rancho Camulos here, or at the Hidden Stories Conference on October 2 and 3. Today is the last day to get tickets!

Know Your History, Know Your Parks

CSPF’s third Hidden Stories Series conference, Folding Back the Layers of California’s Latino/a History: The Stories Beneath the Stories, is taking place on October 2 and 3 in Los Angeles.

The 2013 Hidden Stories conference will explore Latino history in the context of California’s state parks. This conference seeks to go beyond existing interpretation of historical Latino figures to look at “the stories beneath the stories,” or going beyond what is commonly known in order to uncover how these figures shaped our history, influenced our society, and left permanent, although unrecognized, impressions on our state.

Find out more info…

SNEAK PEEK: California Citrus State Historic Park

Citrus Apr13 450One Hidden Stories presenter will be José Alamillo, Ph.D., Full Professor and Coordinator of the Chicana/o Studies Program at California State University, Channel Islands. His Hidden Stories presentation is titled “California Citrus State Historic Park and Mexican American Neighborhoods.”

Here’s a sneak peek of his presentation:

“Latino neighborhoods did not only originate in urban cities but also in rural and suburban areas near railroads, mines and agricultural fields. As the citrus industry expanded in the late 19th century it became a strong economic engine for the state of California. To remain profitable however it recruited foreign labor from Asia and Latin America. Mexican workers increasingly became the largest labor force during the 1920s due to stable employment and family housing provided by growers. Mexican American neighborhoods emerged with the development of California citrus industry like Santa Paula, Pomona, Orange, San Dimas, and Casa Blanca, Eastside Riverside, and Corona.”

If you would like to learn more about this and other topics surrounding California’s historic Latino population then please join us at this year’s conference!

Conference and ticket information can be found here.  PS early bird ticket prices end September 10!

Thanks Professor Alamillo!

Parks Are For Fun!

Despite our ongoing messaging of park closures these days, we also like to maintain an element of fun, because that’s what parks are for! One of our favorite fun moments every year is our ParkFilm Fest, and it is coming up this Saturday.

Come to watch a three-part Pirates of the Caribbean movie marathon on the big screen at Paramount Studios’ Bronson Theater in L.A., AND meet the real pirated of Capt. Jack Sparrow’s crew between films! (Seriously, the actors are coming. Yes, you can get autographs.)

Other fun highlights will include: walking the red carpet, free popcorn, pirate booty, green screen photos, food truck, cash bar, autographs and Q&A with six Pirates cast members, and Paramount tram tours for those who buy package tickets.

The best part of all? Proceeds from the event go to CSPF to help offset severe state budget cuts that threaten all California state parks.  Get tickets online before Friday night, or get them at the door on Saturday.

 

Fun Bonus: Tomorrow is casual Friday, which means you might find out membership department in (inadvertently) matching footwear, per usual.

The CSPF Membership Department in matching Chuck Taylors. No, it wasn’t planned!