Take It Outside, California!

26222329370_0573293b7a_oThis weekend, April 30 and May 1, is Take It Outside, California! It’s an annual event, organized by our partner California Council of Land Trusts, encouraging Californians to get outside and enjoy our parks and open spaces.

Organizations all over California are planning outdoor events for you to enjoy, including ours! We invite Californians to enjoy healthy activities, celebrate our public lands, and Take It Outside, California! next weekend with our special Park Champions work days.

We have planned 5 special, family-friendly volunteer workdays in state parks in partnership with Take It Outside. All tools and training provided. Projects over 3 hours also include lunch.

Will Rogers, Baldwin Hills and Rio de Los Angeles are still looking for volunteers. Register on our website to participate. 

If these parks aren’t in your area, visit Take It Outside California! to discover new parks near you, and sign the pledge to take it outside. Free public activities include a guided dog walk, family festival, kite flying, creek exploration, outdoor Zumba, and a cardio hike with yoga (yiking!).

See you out there.

Thank You for a Great Earth Day

Earth Day

Earth Day volunteers hunt for debris at Sonoma Coast State Park in Jenner.

Thank you, CSPF members, supporters, and volunteers — you pulled off another great Earth Day event this past Saturday!

Over 2,000 volunteers rolled up their sleeves and tackled dozens of improvement projects at 27 state parks from Mendocino down to Los Angeles. They removed invasive plants and graffiti, installed picnic benches and displays, built food storage lockers, installed drip irrigation systems, painted work sheds and bathrooms, picked up trash along shorelines and lakes, planted native shrubs and bushes, and more.

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Volunteers plant and water native species at Candlestick Point.

See photos and details of each park here.

These thousands of contributed volunteer hours helped get parks ready for the busy summer season, which is especially important given the continued budget restrictions affecting the state parks system.

In addition to volunteering, hundreds of you made donations to our Earth Day Campaign. Thanks to you, we hit the $15,000 target and earned the matching grant from our friends at The Donner Foundation.

Thank you one and all for your generosity! You’re making great things happen for the parks we all love.

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Volunteers at Crystal Cove enjoyed a beautiful view while they worked.

Would you like more opportunities to volunteer in parks? Maybe you came to Earth Day and had a good time, or maybe you were sad to miss it and would like to try another time. Either way, check out our Park Champions program.  We have several volunteer events each month, including some special events next weekend in partnership with Take It Outside, California! 

 

 

Earth Day is made possible by our presenting sponsor Pacific Gas and Electric Company, associate sponsors SUBWAY Restaurants, Edison International and Oracle, and grant providers Microsoft, Southern California Gas Company, Goldman Sachs, The Nature Conservancy — and YOU, our members.

Discussing Diversity in Our Wild Spaces

Over the course of a 4-day camping trip this past May in Yosemite National Park, CSPF participated in a Muir Campfire Discussion entitled “Diversity and Relevancy.” It was a gathering of inspiring people from nonprofits, government agencies and individuals involved in the movement to encourage more people of color to visit and seek careers in the outdoors. Please watch this video to learn more and to hear from some of the participants.

Diversity and Inclusion In Our Wild Spaces from The Muir Project on Vimeo.

From the Director:

In May I was lucky enough to be invited to document an amazing event in Yosemite National Park. It was a campfire discussion on improving the diversity of both the visitation and the employment within our parks and wild spaces. It was a gathering of extraordinary people from non profit agencies, land management bureaus and other people involved in the movement to encourage more people of color to visit and seek careers in the outdoors. If you love our National Parks and other wild spaces please share this with others, as it really is one of the most important issues facing the conservation movement and outdoor recreation. Thanks for watching.

Jason

Are parks still relevant?

There is an interesting article published in The Economist this month about declining visitation numbers in national parks, particularly among young Americans. The article, “Why go outside when you have an iPhone?,” concludes that today’s youth are more interested in roller coasters and techie entertainment than they are in our natural spaces.

“The National Park Service has all manner of explanations for its stagnating popularity. The simplest is that other forms of entertainment are distracting Americans from its charms. As Jonathan Jarvis, its director, put it in 2011: “There are times when it seems as if the national parks have never been more passé than in the age of the iPhone.” A spokesman cites the proliferation of middle-class holiday options in recent decades, from time-share accommodation that makes a regular stay at the beach affordable to family-focused developments in spots like central Florida and Las Vegas.”

Read the full article here.

In a world of Facebook, Wi-Fi and endless gadgets, this conclusion makes sense. Couple this with tough economic times and high gas prices, and it is no surprise that fewer families are taking road trips to America’s national parks.

There is something greatly unsettling about this trend. Because truly, it seems like Americans could benefit from parks and natural spaces now more than ever before.

As someone who is an established park lover, “Why go outside when you have an iPhone?” seems like a silly question. I go outside precisely because I have an iPhone … so I can turn it off, escape my screens, and get away from the hustle and bustle of my city, job and never-ending email. I’d venture to guess that many of my fellow park lovers feel the same way. The natural world is an amazing respite from our 21st Century lives.

Yet I only know the benefits because I have already been exposed to them and have experienced them first hand. Not everyone has had these experiences.

As the article goes on to explain, there are entire new generations growing up in America who don’t know what they are missing … because they have never been introduced to the parks, and they have no reason to be. They have no cultural connection, no personal history in the parks, and plenty of distractions to keep their attention elsewhere. America has become more diverse, but parks have not diversified their appeal.

Future-Park-LoversThis is an interesting challenge for an organization like ours. How can we make our natural spaces and parks relevant, accessible and important to ALL Americans? Our California state parks, in particular, offer an amazing array of natural, cultural and historical resources across the entire state. Whether or not Californians know about these places, prefer them as a destination or truly value them in their lives is a question we want to explore further.

Yesterday we held a meeting of the minds to discuss these very concepts. With a room full of diverse experts, we explored relevancy of state parks to the diverse California population, and the things that drive different people to explore and experience the outdoors. We plan to continue this work and hope you will stay engaged with us as we strive to engage more people with California state parks than ever before.

We truly believe that everyone can benefit from connecting with their state parks. If that means introducing parks to new generations of Californians and Americans, then we are up for the challenge.

What’s your response to, “Why go outside when you have an iPhone?”?

– Alexis Stoxen, California State Parks Foundation

Love State Parks? Say So!

There’s no better way to show your political support for something than to sit in the office of your local representative and tell them about it.

Seems a little intimidating perhaps? On the contrary. That’s why we coordinate our annual Park Advocacy Day. We schedule appointments for you, help you develop talking points, and put you in small groups with whom you can visit your representatives. But we need people like YOU to join us to make this day successful.

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Picture yourself as a park advocate

That said, registration is now open for our 11th Annual Park Advocacy Day and we hope you will participate.

CSPF’s 11th Annual Park Advocacy Day
Sacramento, CA
Tuesday, March 12, 2013
8 a.m. to 5:30 p.m.

During Park Advocacy Day, over 100 park supporters will gather together in Sacramento to spend the day meeting with policymakers and advocating in support of state parks. These meetings have a lasting impact on legislators and staff as they make decisions on legislation and budget issues.

And the day is customized to YOU. You’ll have the opportunity to speak up for YOUR state parks with your very own representatives.  What’s not to like about that?

But you have to register soon to join in, as there are limited spots and registration closes Feb. 8.

If you have questions about Park Advocacy Day, please contact us at advocacy@calparks.org or call 916-442-2119.

Watch it First: California’s State Historic Parks – Doorways to the Past

We are pleased to introduce a brand new video from our Magnificent 70 series today! This gorgeous video (produced by Doug McConnell and his team at ConvergenceMedia Productions) shows how one can tell the entire history of California through its 47 state historic parks.

Watch the beautiful video about California’s historic parks:

If you haven’t had the opportunity to look at The Magnificent 70 website yet, now is the time!

The Magnificent 70 is a site we created this summer as a celebration of 70 California state parks slated to close July 2012, and to serve as a reminder of what will be lost if they are shuttered. It is like a living photo book with gorgeous photos and original stories written by author Kerry Tremain about each of the 70 parks on the closure list.

Defend What’s Yours—Your State Parks

Today we are announcing the launch of a new public awareness campaign called Defend What’s Yours. This is the message we are bringing to the public (in more or less words):

‘California state parks belong to you, but not for long. Six months from now 25 percent of your parks will be closed unless you step up to defend them.’

It’s a strong message, but we believe public awareness is necessary in this moment to empower citizen action and mobilize grassroots support to save the nation’s biggest and best state park system.

As part of the big launch today, we unveiled a new series of television public service announcements (PSAs) that will air statewide starting this week. Take a look at one here:

See the other PSAs on our YouTube channel.

It’s time to say enough is enough. Enjoy the videos, and please join us in this fight to defend state parks. Do you want to be a defender?

Cast a Vote, Save a Park

Here is an easy way to help save one state park: McGrath State Beach. It is one of the 70 state parks slated for closure — in fact, this park is expected to close September 6! This is tragic, but let’s see if together we can change the tides.

Right now McGrath State Beach is in the running to receive a $100K prize from Coca-Cola in the” America’s Favorite Park” contest. It’s currently in sixth place (not bad, but we can do better). Show your support for McGrath by casting your vote today; nay, right now. You have unlimited votes so while you’re there you can vote for your other favorites state parks, too.

Cast your vote: http://www.livepositively.com/#/americasparks/leaderboard

Help your favorite state park win up to $100,000!