California State Parks are Great Places to: Achieve Our Goals

This is the first installment in our “State Parks are Great Places to” series.

 

California state parks have something for everyone. Many parks serve as an extensive outdoor playground for all types of athletes, from runners to bikers, climbers to surfers. State parks are great places to help athletes achieve there goals, whether it is training, racing, or just getting outside to do their sport.

One CSPF member sums up how state parks help him achieve his goals:

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If you are looking for ways to use state parks in your own athletic training, here are some upcoming outdoor events in state parks to get you started:

ENDURANCE EVENTS 

RUNNING RACES

COASTAL TRAIL RACES

Skyline to the Sea trail: http://sempervirens.org/get-outdoors/skyline-to-the-sea-trail/

ROCK CLIMBING

MOUNTAIN BIKING

What sports do you do in state parks? Do you have a favorite event that you would add to this list?

Kids Teaching Kids About State Parks

Last month in Chico, California approximately fifty 11th and 12th grade students from Pleasant Valley High School’s ACE-LIFE Academy HERO and Careers with Kids classes had their annual Public Safety Day for K-6 students in our area.

The event is an educational experience for hundreds of elementary students. The high school students researched and collaborated on a safety topic of their group’s choice.  Some of the safety presentations included: California State Park safety, water safety, fire safety and playground safety.

It is exciting to see kids interested in state parks. What an amazing idea to teach other kids how to safely enjoy our state parks. The high school students also made a fun scavenger hunt to help others learn and enjoy even more. Great job!

Park Advocates Bring State Parks to Sacramento

Tuesday, May 5 marked another successful Park Advocacy Day at the Capitol hosted by California State Parks Foundation. This year, over 160 park advocates from all over the state joined together for a day of advocacy and lobbying on behalf of state parks. The day included presentations by legislators, an expo on the Capitol lawn featuring state park partners and activities, a busy afternoon of legislative visits, and an evening reception to honor two park supporters in the Legislature — Kristin Olsen and Anthony Rendon.

The expo on the Capitol lawn was themed, “California State Parks are Great Places for You and Me.” It included booths from dozens of park partners showcasing why they love parks and what activities their local parks provide. Booths included trail stewardship, water sampling, recycling, theater, animals, historic dress, fire research, documentary, marine life, and more.

Advocates lobbied three bills in particular during their legislative appointments:

  1. Assembly Bill 327 (Gordon) — This bill would extend a prevailing wage exemption for public works volunteers for the next 7 years so that volunteers may continue to offer unpaid work to state parks. Advocates expressed how important volunteer work is in state parks, particularly as budget cuts have stretched park staff too thin.
  2. Assembly Bill 988 (Stone) — This bill would create an Outdoor Environmental Education and Recreation Grant Program within DPR to award grants to public organizations and/or nonprofits for outdoor environmental education and recreation programs. Advocates emphasized how important it is to give kids, particularly at-risk youth, the opportunity to experience the outdoors.
  3. Senate Bill 317 (De León) — This bill would create the Safe Neighborhood Parks, Rivers and Coastal Protection Bond of 2016, a $2.4 billion bond to be placed on the November 2016 ballot for approval by California voters. The bond would provide substantial funding for various park areas, including local parks, state parks, rivers/lakes/streams, coastal conservation, climate resilience, and more.

After advocates finished meeting with nearly every office in the Capitol, they rejoined together at the Elks Tower Ballroom for a reception to celebrate their hard work, as well as recognize Assemblymembers Kristin Olsen and Anthony Rendon for their work on behalf of state parks.

It was a great day in Sacramento. Kudos to all the amazing park advocates who came out to support their state parks!

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.

Share a Sweet State Park Valentine

Send your loved ones a sweet Valentine courtesy of the California State Parks Foundation that celebrate your love and the great California outdoors!

Happy Valentine’s Day.

XOXO,

California State Parks Foundation

Take Your Valentine to a State Park

This Valentine’s Day, think outside the chocolate box … and surprise your loved one with a date in the great outdoors! Our state parks offer lots of opportunities to enjoy a special day outdoors with your sweetie.

Our state parks provide countless opportunities to explore and learn more about plants, animals and nature. That’s why we think that California’s state parks are Great Places to “Get Wild” with Your Valentine!

Huntington State Beach. ©Paula Schultz -- http://paulasphotoart.smugmug.com/

A romantic stroll along Huntington State Beach. Photo ©Paula Schultz — paulasphotoart.smugmug.com

VALENTINE DATES IN STATE PARKS

In addition to hiking, picnicking, snowshoeing and beach combing, there are several events taking place in state parks that might make a great date with your valentine this holiday weekend:

  • Watch for bald eagles at the free Bald Eagle barge tours taking place at Silverwood Lake State Recreation Area on Saturdays at 9:00 a.m. through March. Please note that reservations are required and these popular tours sell out fast!
  • Head to Natural Bridges State Beach for the annual Beach Migration Festival — a full-day celebration of whales, butterflies, birds and the many creatures that travel.
  • Enjoy a special “Romance in the Redwoods” guided walk at Big Basin Redwoods State Park where you will learn about the courtship behaviors of banana slugs, redwood trees and other creatures found in the park.
  • Join the Tijuana Estuary Nature Preserve’s bi-weekly bird walk and learn about some of the 370 species of birds that live or stop by this Reserve on their yearly migration.
  • Watch for whales and other wildlife during Weekend Whale Talks at MacKerricher State Park.

Are you planning to enjoy the Valentine’s holiday in state parks? Join the conversation and share your Valentine’s Day ideas and state park photos on our Facebook page!

For more events taking place this month in state parks, please visit the Department of Parks and Recreation’s event page.

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

Time capsule opened in historic state park

It is not every day that you have the opportunity to open a time capsule. But on November 29, the Bidwell Mansion State Historic Park and the community of Chico got that chance.

An eager crowd of all ages gathered at the front of the mansion around 10 a.m. to see what people from the past wanted to pass on. The time capsule was discovered on November 4 this year when a construction crew was moving an Oregon Trail marker, which was placed there October 25, 1925.

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After a few minutes of waiting the contents were revealed. The box contained scrolls that were wrapped in some sort of vegetation. The staff did not want to open the scrolls right away, as not to expose the paper to the elements. The time capsule is now on display in the Visitor Center and is awaiting an expert to safely inspect what is inside. The information will become available once it has been analyzed.

What may be even more important than the contents of the capsule is the community that came out to see it. The mansion continues to be a social and cultural hub for the community. For example, throughout the year the local elementary schools in the Chico Unified School District come to the Bidwell Mansion to learn about local and California history.

The three-story, 26-room mansion was the home of pioneer General John Bidwell and his wife Annie Bidwell, a temperance leader and women’s suffrage advocate. The mansion was a social and cultural destination for many, including President Rutherford B. Hayes, General William Tecumseh Sherman, California Governor Leland Stanford, environmentalist John Muir, and women’s suffragist Susan B. Anthony.

California can only hope Bidwell Mansion is preserved for our future generations to gather, learn about, and embrace the historical community.

The Visitor Center is open Saturday through Monday from 11 a.m. to 5 p.m. Tours are held Saturday, Sunday, and Monday from 11 a.m. to 4 p.m.

story BY CSPF Senor membership assistant Ashley tittle

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Great Places Photo Challenge Wrap Up

A photograph taken at a state park can inspire others to experience for themselves why California’s State Parks are Great Places.

That’s why CSPF asked our members and Facebook fans to participate in our “End Your Summer in a Great Place Photo Challenge.” During the Challenge, participants uploaded their favorite state park photos to our Facebook page. Each week during the Challenge, a randomly selected photographer was awarded a prize package from CSPF’s online store, and at the conclusion of the End Your Summer in a Great Place Photo Challenge, we awarded first, second and third place prizes to the photographers whose photos had received the most votes on Facebook.

Photo Challenge Winners

Thank you to everyone who participated in the End Your Summer in a Great Places Photo Challenge!

Photo Challenge Submissions