August 30, 2016 – SACRAMENTO – Advancing the vision of a private blue-ribbon commission to reinvigorate the California state park experience for generations to come, the Legislature has sent to Gov. Jerry Brown a bill to enable the Department of Parks and Recreation to enter into partnership with a nonprofit entity to conduct such functions as raising private funds to improve parks and marketing the parks to promote increased public visitation.
SB1111 by Senator Fran Pavley implements a key proposal from the nonprofit Parks Forward Commission, which in 2015 issued a wide-ranging set of recommendations on ways to improve park services and facilities through collaboration with nonprofit partners, businesses and local communities.
“California’s state parks are a treasure that inspire and soothe more than 67 million visitors a year,” said Senator Pavley. “By partnering with private benefactors and enthusiasts, the state can enhance the experience of existing visitors and better reach out to those who have not yet taken full advantage of the natural beauty and recreational opportunities the state park system has to offer.”
While SB 1111 does not require the establishment of a nonprofit entity to partner with the Parks and Recreation Department, it establishes a roadmap for the services and assistance such an entity could provide.
Senator Pavley anticipates that the new entity would be incorporated by those associated with the Parks Forward Commission or that an existing nonprofit will be transformed into the new entity the commission’s recommendations envisioned.
Under the bill, the entity’s scope of work will include raising private money, supporting marketing and communications, promoting increased public visitation and recruiting more diverse staffing.
The work of the new entity will not replace that already being done by existing nonprofit and community-based partners.
The California state park system includes more than 340 miles of coastline, 970 miles of lake and river frontage, 15,000 campsites and 4,500 miles of trails.
Gov. Brown has until Sept. 30 to act on all bills sent to him by the Legislature in August, the final month of the two-year lawmaking session.
ANCHORAGE, Alaska – With Alaska’s fiscal crisis drying up funding for a number of state projects, officials hope a crowdfunding campaign will raise $50,000 toward shoring up a crumbling riverbank creeping toward century-old buildings at a state park.
Alaska is among a growing list of governments and civic organizations across the country going that route as traditional revenue sources shrink.
The riverbank project marks the state’s debut in the increasingly popular practice of financing ventures through small payouts from large numbers of people.
In recent years, funding sites such as Citizinvestor and Spacehive have provided cash-generating platforms for those public entities, tweaking the formula of private pioneers such as Kickstarter and GoFundMe.
“On our (state) website, we have a place where you can donate, but it’s the first time we’ve actually gone to crowdfunding,” Alaska’s northern area park superintendent Brooks Ludwig said. “This is new territory for us.”
Alaskans blame the shortage of capital improvement funds on oil prices that plunged two years ago and have stayed low ever since.
But some projects can’t wait for the industry to rebound. About 250 feet of the Tanana River needs to be stabilized at Big Delta State Historical Park, where the problem is threatening a roadhouse and an old telegraph station once used as part of a military communications system built in the early 1900s.
The park, 90 miles southeast of Fairbanks, is located near a historic stopping point for travelers, traders and the military. The gem of Alaska’s pioneer past remains a draw for tourists.
The improvement plan for Big Delta is relying on the “Fund Your Park” site run by the National Recreation and Park Association for its members, including Alaska.
“This is just another fundraising tool,” said Michele White, who manages the “Fund Your Park” site. Since it was launched nearly two years ago, the service has been used for 50 projects across the country. Eleven of those projects — including the Alaska park — launched 30-day campaigns last week.
Some campaigns have fared far better than others.
Among the most successful involved the Texas city of Grand Prairie near Dallas. The goal was to raise $25,000 for all-inclusive swings that can accommodate disabled people at a park currently under development. The city ended up raising nearly $33,000 through the park crowdfunding site — a total that project manager Steve Plumer credited to a massive marketing campaign.
“It was awesome,” he said of the experience. “I think it’s a great opportunity.”
Users of the funding site are encouraged to keep their goals realistic.
To that end, Ludwig said, Alaska parks officials decided to seek just a fraction of the money needed for the riverbank work expected to cost $319,000. Along with the $50,000 sought through crowdfunding, park officials have $100,000 in hand and want to raise the remaining $169,000 by soliciting donations from businesses, foundations and other government agencies.
The Fairbanks-based Helen E. Snedden Foundation is contributing $15,000 through the crowdfunding campaign.
Erosion of the river’s banks has long been a concern, but this summer the bank has been gobbled up at a faster pace, prompting volunteers in July to move artifacts from the old cabin built in 1907 that was originally used as a telegraph office, according to Maureen Gardner, a longtime parks manager who recently retired.
“The water was getting so close,” she said. “The bank was taken away so quickly. ”
The cabin has since been moved about 50 more feet back from the river with the hope of returning it to the original site after the bank is stabilized, Ludwig said.
“Just for history’s sake,” he said.
Residents, business owners and concerned parties joined State Parks Administrator Curt Cottrell for a talk story session about the future of Kealakekua Bay, Kaawaloa Flats and Napoopoo Landing Saturday afternoon at Kealakekua Bay State Historical Park. Laura Shimabuku/West Hawaii Today
Kealakekua — Taking care of her community is her kuleana, said Alayna Debina.
So is taking keeping Hawaiian culture alive for her descendants, said Debina, the secretary of the community advisory task force Hoala Kealakekua.
“I feel like I need to do what I can to help perpetuate the history for my children and grandchildren,” she said.
Debina was among about 35 people who spent Saturday morning clearing vegetation at Kealakekua Bay State Historical Park.
Hoala Kealakekua was formed earlier this year to organize community members who wanted to take ownership of the area.
Every month since May, members have come out to work on clearing vegetation around Hikiau Heaiu, described by the Department of Land and Natural Resources as “one of the most important religious sites on the island of Hawaii.” Saturday, the organization signed an agreement to “adopt” the park, allowing them to continue their care taking efforts month to month.
For years now, state officials have struggled to put together a master plan guiding park use that balances preservation with access for residents and tourists.
Those plans are still being worked out, but having Hoala Kealakekua gives the community a chance to get a headstart on cleaning up as well as identifying and cataloguing historical sites.
“Whatever plan the state chooses, certain things can only be done one way,” said Gordon Leslie, chairman of Hoala Kealakekua. Leslie said all work is done under the guidance of the state archeologist.
Members say there’s a real difference being made.
“It’s awesome,” Debina said of the impact the organization has made. “I mean there’s such a huge difference.”
Manao Alu, 22, was also among those clearing vegetation Saturday. He said it’s important to keep the park’s history alive for future generations.
“It means a lot for people to come out and help,” he said.
The event attracted community members of all ages. Debina noted that a group of kupuna came out to the event to support the clean up and lend their hands.
Leslie said having the older generation play a role in caring for the park means a lot for the community.
“It’s important for the young generation to see the elders supporting it,” he said.
Their involvement and stewardship also shows the Department of Land and Natural Resources that the community has a stake in the area’s future and any plans for the park need to take that into account.
Hoala Kealakekua spokesman Miles Mulcahy said all the original proposals for the area’s use were geared toward tourists.
“They didn’t seem to take a lot into account for the local use,” said Mulcahy.
After talking with Leslie and others, the community made the decision to create Hoala Kealakekua in order to preserve the history of the area and perpetuate the culture.
“So we’re trying to do a comprehensive plan that keeps it available for local use and still protect the area and allow tourist education,” he said.
The area also suffers from a lack of facilities and monitoring.
There are no restrooms or trash bins at Kaawaloa Flat, the site of the Captain Cook monument. Nor are there any along the long, steep trail to access that part of the park.
That means visitors to the area leave behind human waste and trash at a place Leslie called perhaps one of the most sacred places in the state of Hawaii.
“Any place they can squat behind – a fallen tree, a stone wall, a heiau, a grave site – that’s where they go and relieve themselves,” Leslie said.
Another problem Mulcahy identified is that of visitors interfering with artifacts.
“The other thing is people come down and they say ‘Oh look at this really nice rock. Oh it looks like a figure,’” he said. “And they take it home with them.”
Curt Cottrell, Hawaii Department of Land and Natural Resources state parks division administrator, acknowledged the need for restrooms, adding that any facilities at Kaawaloa would need to be waterless.
Cottrell attended the morning’s clean up and held a talk story with community members Saturday afternoon.
He also noted the need to improve parking near the Hikiau Heaiu side of the park and restore the historic wharf and repurpose it for launching vessels.
All of that, he said, needs to happen without overly impacting residents.
Part of the problem, he said, is that state park infrastructure isn’t keeping up with the number of tourists visiting state parks.
“The parks are not designed with the kind of patronage we’ve seen,” he said.
Cottrell said he liked the combination of the morning clean up and the afternoon talk story, saying it’s something he’d like to replicate for other meetings.
During the talk story, John Kirkpatrick of consultant Belt Collins described a recent survey about what people would like to see at the park. The survey asked a variety of questions about how the park should be used and what sort of activity should be allowed at the sites and in the bay.
The survey wasn’t scientific, he said, so its findings can only be used to describe what the respondents felt rather than be extrapolated to describe the whole community’s sentiments.
In that survey, the highest ranking priority for respondents was identified as “access and use of the park for recreation.”
Some at the talk story, however, criticized the survey as being biased and argued that the survey should have been directed at people who live in the immediate area.
Cottrell, however, said the survey “had no intended consequence.”
“I have no agenda,” he said. “I wanted to bring this meeting to the neighborhood.”
Leslie told the crowd that the community needs to take advantage of tourism in the area, saying ventures like kayak rentals are among the only economic engines in the village.
“Wherever that flow of tourist goes, you need to tap into that,” he said.
BY MICHAEL PEARCE
They’re just not quite ready to totally leave easy living – and technology – behind.
In some states Wi-Fi is being added to the parks. In Kansas, electricity is being run to campsites that are little more than a flat spot on the ground with a picnic table and a fire pit.
“Our millennials like to be able to charge a phone so they can stay connected,” said Linda Lanternman, Kansas Department of Wildlife, Parks and Tourism state park director. “That’s one of the things we’re seeing change. ”
Lantern said that’s probably one reason why use of primitive campsites – those with no utilities – is on the decline. Another reason could be today’s campers simply want more comfort and better shelter.
Either way, Lantern said she and her staff are searching for ways to satisfy today’s state park users. That includes investigating alternative shelters that are comfortable, protective and affordable.
That means the day may soon come when Kansans could learn what it’s like sleep in a tepee on the high plains, or camp in the kind of giant-wall tent that big-game hunters have long adored in the Rocky Mountains.
Yurts, the shelters of the Mongolian steppes, are already available in Kansas parks, but more opportunities are probably coming.
“Not everybody wants to camp primitive, and not everybody can afford a modern cabin, so we’re trying to find things in between,” Lanterman said. “We know we have to keep changing to satisfy our state park users.”
Other states are also making adjustments.
Brent Leisure, Texas state parks director, said a growing number of their clients want more comfort and convenience.
“Anybody that’s camped much, at all, knows that sleeping on the ground when it’s wet can be absolutely miserable,” Leisure said.
“It’s really a problem if it’s someone’s first time (camping) and that happens. That can make it a one-and-done thing, and that’s a threat to our future.”
Kansas currently has 121 cabins for rent, most at state parks but a few at state fishing areas. Most of the cabins come as well equipped as many small houses, with private bedrooms, full bathrooms, electricity, heat, air-conditioning and hot water. Daily rates average about $100 per night.
Several years ago two canvas yurts were placed at Eisenhower State Park, at Melvern Reservoir, about 40 miles south of Topeka. Each is 16 feet in diameter, is well insulated, and comes with electricity, heat and air-conditioning, windows, a skylight, solid floors and beds where guests can lay out sleeping bags or take their own linens.
Steady or improving attendance at Kansas state parks proves people still like camping in the great outdoors.
MOUNT MITCHELL – Jake Blood likes nothing more than a hard, calf-burning climb up a high mountain peak, the more patches of wild blackberries and need for bushwhacking, the better.
That’s why he finds such satisfaction in a hike amid the Black Mountains, which buttress Mount Mitchell and its sky-scraping elevation of 6,684 feet, the highest east of the Mississippi.
But the retired Air Force intelligence officer, and founding member of the High Peaks Trail Association in Burnsville, was always bothered by something as he pored over topographic maps of Pisgah National Forest, which surrounds Mount Mitchell.
“I always wondered, what is that?” Blood said, pointing to a spit of land colored in white denoting private property, jutting in between the boundaries of the state park in Yancey County. “It always baffled me. What was it doing there?”
He was leading a hiking group last week across the Black Mountain Crest Trail, which scales the spine of the Blacks’ most prominent peaks in Yancey County – Mount Craig (6,645 feet), Big Tom Wilson (6,552 feet), Balsam Cone (6,611 feet), and Cattail Peak (6,583 feet), until now, the highest elevation, privately owned peak in the Eastern United States.
Thanks to recent events, the maps will change, with the white piece of the jigsaw puzzle soon to be colored purple – indicating state-owned land for public enjoyment.
The Conservation Fund, a Raleigh-based land trust, has purchased 2,744 acres in the Black Mountains – 783 acres in the Laurel Branch Area and 1,961 acres in the Cattail Peak area, including Cattail Peak – adjoining the state park. The fund will convey the land to the state this year, timed to celebrate the 100th anniversary of the N.C. State Park System and Mount Mitchell, the state’s first park.
The park expansion and centennial will be marked by a party Saturday and Sunday at Mount Mitchell. The land acquisition will more than double the size of Mount Mitchell State Park, which was 1,996 acres.
Funding is complete for the Laurel Branch area, valued at $3 million, said Bill Holman, N.C. director of the Conservation Fund. Gifts from philanthropists Fred and Alice Stanback covered most of the costs, with $130,000 coming from the N.C. Clean Water Management Trust Fund.
The Stanbacks, of Salisbury, provided half the funding for the Cattail Peak to Cane River properties, Holman said. Those carry a value of $7.25 million. The Clean Water fund provided $1.2 million last year and earlier this year, the N.C. Parks and Recreation Trust Fund set aside $728,000.
Full article, photos->
(CNN) – On the eve of the National Park Service’s centennial, President Barack Obama named Maine’s Katahdin Woods and Waters National Monument on Wednesday as the newest national park site.
People can already visit the 87,000-acre national monument, which has a park service superintendent on the ground and two visitor centers opening today.
The new monument is located east of Baxter State Park and includes the East Branch of the Penobscot River and part of the Maine Woods, where visitors will be able to hike, canoe, hunt, snowmobile, cross-country ski and more.
Burt’s Bees co-founder and philanthropist Roxanne Quimby’s foundation, Elliotsville Plantation, donated the land and additional funds to the park service with assistance from the National Park Foundation as part of its centennial parks campaign. Quimby is a member of the foundation’s board of directors.
The $100 million gift includes the land, which is valued at about $60 million; $20 million to help fund initial park operational needs and infrastructure development; and a pledge of another $20 million of future support, the White House said.
“I grew up in this part of Maine,” said Lucas St. Clair, Quimby’s son and president of her foundation, calling the land sacred to his family.
“To have it designated as a national monument is an incredible moment,” he told CNN.
“I look forward to people coming and exploring landscape on their own, and I look forward to these communities that have been really struggling starting to realize some of the economic benefits that national parks can bring,” he said.
St. Clair said his mother started buying land in the late 1990s and has been “working incredibly hard for decades” to preserve the land.
Quimby’s gift has been debated for years among residents of Maine, where the paper industry once dominated the economy. As with some national park designations in the western United States, many objected to a land transfer to the federal government.
August 25, 2016, marks the 100th anniversary of the creation of the United States’ National Park Service, which now oversees 413 sites encompassing more than 84 million acres.
TOPEKA, Kan. (WIBW)- Blue Cross and Blue Shield of Kansas is hoping to get you out of your normal routine.
BCBS is hosting the second Healthy Trails Adventure Day. On Oct. 1, admission will be free at all 26 Kansas State Parks.
“A lot of times kids are too busy with the adventure games and things like as opposed to having their own adventure,” said Any Corbin, president and CEO, BCBS of Kansas. “State parks offer that wonderful relationship, whether it’s Frisbee or a campfire or just a good hard walk.”
Healthy Trails Adventure Day is another way for Kansans to get out of the house. BCBS says getting outdoors can make you happier, promotes a healthy body and even help you live longer.
“It also creates family bonding that you just don’t get otherwise,” Corbin said. “[It’s] a little bit away from your normal routine.”
Kansas State Parks include more than 500 miles of trails, 32,300 acres of land, 10,000 campsites with utility hookups and cabins and access to more than 130,000 surface-acres of water.
“Our Kansas State Parks offer unique terrain, amazing trails, and scenic landscapes for everyone to enjoy,” said Robin Jennison, secretary, Kansas Department of Wildlife, Parks and Tourism. “We’re pleased that for a second year, Blue Cross and Blue Shield of Kansas has chosen the Kansas State Parks to serve as the centerpiece of this campaign.”
To help kids get out and enjoy the outdoors, BCBS is offering a coloring book at all state park locations, rest stops, local tourism offices and the Kansas State Fair. It features a map of all 26 state parks, information about the parks and educational tips.
When you hit the trail Oct. 1 make to tag all your adventure posts with the hashtag #HealthyAdventure.
To learn more and pick the perfect state park for your next adventure head to bcbsks.com/HealthyAdventure.
That was part of a gun salute from living history re-enactors following the unveiling of signs for the Washington-Rochambeau Revolutionary Route National Historic Trail at FDR State Park in Westchester County. U.S. Secretary of the Interior Sally Jewell was on hand for the unveiling and to kick off the National Park Service’s centennial week.
“The Hudson Valley has been working together for a long time to say we’ve got important parts of our nation’s history that need to be told right here. The Revolutionary War, the Industrial Revolution, the channel of the waterways here that was such an important part of moving goods and things as we became a young nation,” Jewell says. “So this is a place to celebrate how the community comes together and works with the National Park Service and city parks, state parks, to highlight these important places. And it’s been a National Heritage Area for some time. So, it’s an important part of the National Park Service and that’s why I’m here to kick off our celebration.”
“What’s your impression?” Dunne asks.
“It’s beautiful. It’s amazing. The only thing I’d say is, where are the kids? So we need to get New Yorkers to bring their kids out to places like this park.”
Yorktown resident and history teacher Gregory Smith attended the unveiling with his wife and two kids.
“And when we heard about it, we thought it’d be an exciting thing not only for us to see but really for our kids to be exposed to the history of the region but also kind of how it’s all linked together to the story of us, sustainability, the environment, community,” Smith says. “It’s a beautiful way to see it all intertwined together. And I think the speakers made an impression on us and hopefully on our kids as well.”
Jewell joined Congresswoman Nita Lowey. FDR State Park in Yorktown Heights is in the Democrat’s 17th district.
“Our parks are an invaluable resource. And it’s important today to tell our children what we are doing and what we have done to preserve their heritage,” Lowey says. “But, right now, this is just a special place and I hope that all the families who hear this will come to the parks, bring the children, and then remember that investing in our parks creates jobs, it’s economic opportunity and we have got to make sure that we protect and preserve them for future generations.”
The unveiling ceremony also marked the 235th anniversary of General Washington’s Continental Army joining forces with General Rochambeau’s French army in the lower Hudson Valley. Mark Castiglione is acting executive director of the Hudson River Valley National Heritage Area and Greenway.
“This location is one of 20 in the lower Hudson Valley where signs like these will mark the Washington Rochambeau National Historic Trail,” Castiglione says. “Collectively, they represent the first interpretive elements of the newest national historic trail in the nation.”
New York State Office of Parks, Recreation and Historic Preservation Commissioner Rose Harvey says that about four months ago the state began using the Every-Kid-in-a-Park pass program from the National Park Service. It’s a pass for free entry into all state parks in 2016 for fourth graders.
“We’re also going to make transportation available to Title 1 schools to our historic sites and to our environmental education centers that are near those communities,” Harvey says.
Following her visit to FDR State Park, Jewell led an historic preservation roundtable at Bear Mountain State Park, with Lowey and Harvey.
It’s easy to get caught up in bad news when it comes to the future of hunting, fishing and the outdoors.
I often hear claims that hunters and anglers are aging, their ranks are dwindling and, especially for hunters, issues such as access, lack of game and time are driving many away from the sport and the future is doomed.
I don’t believe it.
I think hunting, and interest in the outdoors in general, has a bright future. While others can waste time preaching doom and gloom, I think it’s better to focus on the positive and the up-and-coming hunters, anglers and conservationists.
There’s plenty to focus on.
The newly created Governor’s Youth Council for Hunting, Fishing and Conservation is a good place to start. It mirrors the Governor’s Advisory Council for Hunting, Fishing and Conservation and will be comprised of 20 high school students, ranging in age from 14 to 18. Council members will be charged with providing the Governor ideas on how to engage youth in conservation issues and our outdoor heritage.
I have no doubt it’s going to be a success and the council is a somewhat refreshing approach to addressing the issue of getting kids involved in the outdoors. It seems that every time there’s a push to connect kids to the outdoors, the legwork is being done by adults. While the work is admirable, I think it’s going to be more effective to let teens tell us how best to get youth interested in the outdoors.
It’s a more direct approach, and one we should all be optimistic about.
But the youth council isn’t the only reason to be encouraged about the future of our outdoor heritage. Despite the common beliefs that kids just aren’t interested, are too busy or would rather play video games than hit the woods, I’ve seen plenty of evidence that the future generation shares our passion for the outdoors.
I saw it when I stopped by Frances Slocum State Park recently to meet with the kids involved with the Pennsylvania Outdoor Corps. The program is essentially a summer job, but the kids work at state parks and forests gaining valuable job training and educational opportunities while experiencing some of the most impressive public natural areas in the region.
And while the money is nice, it’s not what motivates the kids. The group I spent time with including a few individuals who wanted to become park rangers or pursue other conservation-related careers. And they all loved spending time working outdoors, getting to see our state parks firsthand.
I wrote a story about the group and since it appeared, I’ve been contacted by a few young people wanting to know how they can get involved with the program.
It was encouraging.
But there’s more.
I see a bright future for our outdoor sports when I see the number of kids that show up at the wildlife programs given by the Pennsylvania Game Commission each month at the Northeast Region Office in Dallas. I see it when I walk the banks of any stocked waterway on the first day of trout season and youngsters learning to cast and families spending the day together.
I see it when a mother told me her young son wants to learn about hunting and if I could recommend anything to help him get an opportunity. He enjoyed a pheasant hunt last winter and I’m working on a fall turkey hunt that is sure to give him the memory of a lifetime.
Want more evidence that today’s kids are interested in the outdoors?
The North Mountain Branch of the Quality Deer Management Association held an outdoors skills day for kids ages 5-17 last month in Noxen and 84 kids participated.
Kids don’t care about the outdoors?
I’m not convinced.
Many of the early parks and preservation projects accomplished in the United States were through legislative acts by the states. There was recognition of this growing responsibility in a relatively new field of public service. It was through early successes that such American landmarks as Niagara Falls, the California redwoods, and the San Jacinto battleground were saved for prosperity. A few years later, guided by Stephen Mather, the first National Conference on [State] Parks to promote state and other public parks was conceived, organized, convened and actively supported by practically every park and conservation luminary in the country. Held in Des Moines, Iowa in January 1921, it brought together some 200 highly motivated delegates and ignited a “prairie fire” for the development of public parks across America. From the success of this auspicious convocation of modest beginnings grew a national state park movement that has achieved unimaginable success.1 1Adapted from The State Park Movement in America by Ney Landrum
America’s State Parks today include more than 2,200 traditional state parks and more than 8,100 additional areas that provide wonderful outdoor recreation experiences and unique historical, scientific and environmental education opportunities. Eighteen and one-half million acres provide for grand diversity – from the vastness of a half-million acre mountainous landscape, to the colorful intricacies of a living coral reef, to the world’s longest stalactite formation, to the tallest sand on the Atlantic seaboard, to the historic locations where European settlers first came to America, and much more. This mosaic of the natural resources and cultural fabric of America and the splendor of its beauty are enjoyed by 791 million visitors to state parks annually. Both remote and resort in their offerings, America’s State Parks are indeed yours to explore and experience.
Now, as during the past century and the beginning of the state park movement, the support of partners are invaluable to success of parks. America’s State Parks have long been recognized their accessibility, and for their effectiveness and management efficiencies.
Support from individuals, friends groups and corporate America are central to continuing to provide and advance quality outdoor recreation experiences and opportunities in America’s State Parks and safeguard their importance to the nation’s environment, heritage, health and economy.
Join those that are committed to advancing
America’s State Parks!
To donate, become a partner or receive more information, email: