Creating Career Possibilities Through Partnerships 
By: Myrian Solis Coronel, Parks California 

This is the fourth article in a four-part series by Parks California exploring innovative approaches to increasing access to California’s state parks. As a statutory partner, Parks California has a simple mission—to help strengthen parks and inspire all to experience these extraordinary places.

At a time when resources and capacity seem more limited than ever before, partnerships can often strengthen shared outcomes and create stronger results. That’s why at Parks California, we believe in supporting local organizations, creating opportunities for people to build a relationship to nature. We have seen experiences like these foster a lifelong connection to the outdoors—whether that’s for recreation and/or jobs and careers in parks.

When we look at win-win partnerships, we often see a common thread. Local nonprofits tend to have a strong community connection that allows for a nuanced understanding of barriers to access such as cultural, physical or emotional barriers; creativity for program development and participant recruitment; and overall, more flexibility and nimbleness. Public parks have the grounds for people to visit, enjoy and steward. In many ways, we collectively have created an orbit for people to enter and enjoy a journey outdoors based on their desires and aspirations.

One of those possible paths in the journey is through jobs and careers. Not many know about these opportunities that can blend a person’s appreciation for nature and professional skills. As we think about the future and the need to meet the pressing challenges faced by our landscapes, we need more trained stewards, at all professional levels and across the state to implement climate-resilient solutions. To that end, Parks California launched the Natural Resource Stewardship Career Pathways grant program. By bringing diverse perspectives, lived experiences and Indigenous knowledge into landscape stewardship, it allows us to strengthen the State Parks System with a potential workforce. On the other hand, participants gain skills and are exposed to jobs and careers they may not otherwise have known about. By bringing both together, we ensure that parks are stewarded for generations to come.

Earlier this summer, Parks California had a chance to host an Instagram Live with Literacy for Environmental Justice (LEJ) and met Alex who leads the Eco-Apprentice Program. Watch the story and be inspired by his passion and commitment for the environment. Similar to LEJ, we have the opportunity to support other amazing organizations, mentoring, guiding and providing natural resource management skills to more groups.
Whether you are a government employee, a nonprofit employee, an educator keen on environmental science or a social justice warrior, let’s create a path for the next generation of stewards.
Wildfire in 2020 has transformed Big Basin Redwoods State Park. The public is being invited to help reimagine Big Basin and shape its future.
You can help. Visit

Big Basin Standing in Strength and Regrowth

By: Bonny Hawley, Executive Director, Friends of Santa Cruz
A year after the devastating CZU Lightning Complex Fire burned through nearly all of Big Basin Redwoods State Park, Friends of Santa Cruz State Parks collaborated with California State Parks to create a short documentary and 3D virtual tours that provide an update on regrowth and recovery in California’s oldest state park.

Big Basin remains closed, with no water, power, sewer, phone or internet services available. All the bridges in the park burned, and falling trees remain a major concern. It is not safe for the public to visit.

We hope the documentary and 3D virtual tours give those who love Big Basin a glimpse into the inspiring recovery process and an understanding of the long path we face to reopening the park.

The new documentary illustrates dramatic changes within the park, weaving images from before the fire together with footage captured as flames tore through Big Basin. Photos and videos of the current state of the park show progress: debris removal, tree cleanup and natural regrowth that sparks hope for the future.

The virtual tours offer people a 360-degree view of the park entrance on Highway 236, Blooms Creek Campground, Park Headquarters, the Campfire Center, the gift shop and museum, and the Skyline to Sea trailhead.

Friends of Santa Cruz State Parks, the nonprofit that supports 33 state parks and beaches in Santa Cruz and coastal San Mateo County, funded and co-produced the anniversary content. It’s one of many ways Friends has been supporting the recovery effort over the past year.

Through Friends’ unique position as co-management partners with State Parks, they established the Friends Fire Fund and other immediate response resources. The Fire Fund provided immediate assistance for staff affected by the fire. Many staff members from Friends and State Parks were personally impacted by the fire, including suffering catastrophic losses such as their homes and personal vehicles. Thanks to gifts from hundreds of individuals, as well as the California State Parks Foundation, Mountain Parks Foundation and Stewards of the Coast and Redwoods, Friends was able to financially support all 29 staff members who experienced monumental losses. 

Friends also contracted with Codifi Inc. to digitally document 75 buildings and sites lost at Big Basin, as well Año Nuevo State Park, including Cascade Ranch and Gazos Creek, which together lost more than 25 historic resources. The work was supported by a Community Foundation Santa Cruz County grant.

Friends helped to save 15 old-growth redwood trees in Big Basin by funding hazard-removal pruning in areas where park staff or visitors might one day be. This created a safe park environment while allowing for preservation of these trees, each of them irreplaceable and priceless. Generous support from the Sempervirens Fund helped make possible this work by Christianson Tree Experts Co. of Boulder Creek.

The work ahead is significant and will be a labor of love and we look forward to supporting the effort spearheaded by State Parks to involve the public to reimagine Big Basin.


California State Park Adventure Pass

Fourth graders and their families across the state are now eligible for free, endless adventures at 19 California state parks.
The Adventure Pass
In partnership with the First Partner’s Office and the Natural Resources Agency, the California State Park Adventure Pass is a three-year pilot program established under Assembly Bill 148, which provides for the waiver of day-use entry fees to 19 California State Parks across California for fourth graders and their families.
How Partners Can Help
Cooperating associations can spread the word about the free pass for fourth graders by utilizing the Adventure Pass Partner Toolkit. The toolkit includes outreach materials to help partners share information about the Adventure Pass, communicate the importance of providing opportunities for outdoor recreation to Californians and encourage eligible participants to apply for the Adventure Pass through
Here are some features of the Adventure Pass Partner Toolkit to check out and share on your website or social media:
  • Press Release and Talking Points
  • Website Banner and Poster
  • Social Media Graphics: Three designs to choose from for website, Facebook, Twitter and Instagram.
  • Fact Sheets: One for each of the 19 selected parks included in the Adventure Pass program. The fact sheets include a description of each park and driving distance information from major cities.
Additional Adventure Pass Resources If you have any questions about how partners can provide outreach for the California State Park Adventure Pass, please contact the Partnerships Division at and we will gladly help.


Check Out the California State Parks Mobile App

By: Denise Peterson, Strategic Planning and Recreation Services Division

Have you seen the new California State Parks mobile app? Launched in July, the app has 280 state park units on its platform and lots of great features to keep parkgoers safe and informed. There have been over 2,900 downloads of the app since its launch, meaning more and more people are looking for quick, easily accessed park information to help them further enjoy California state parks.
Some great features of the app include:
  • A native platform that, once downloaded, lives on your device and allows access to most content even while you’re in remote locations without cell service or Wi-Fi.
  • Detailed maps of state park boundaries, trails, parking locations, restrooms and other park features.
  • Real-time updates, including park closures, emergency information and daily events.
  • Social features: Share your photos as you explore and check in at your favorite park.
  • Part of a bigger online community of city, county and regional parks.
The app helps visitors prepare before you get to the park:
  • Check out the park hours so you don’t get there when the park is closed.
  • Find out about parking in advance so you don’t have to stress when you get there.
  • Know what activities are allowed in the park, such as boating or horseback riding.
  • Learn about events in the park during your visit, such as interpretive programs and annual events.
  • Browse the park brochure to learn about the park history and park features.
  • Study the trail maps so you know ahead of time what to expect.
  • Get excited about your visit!
For park visitors, now is the time to download the app and plan your next visit to a state park. The app is available on the App Store and Google Play or use the QR code in the graphic above.
The app was developed by OuterSpatial and is available for both iOS and Android devices. OuterSpatial continues to support California State Parks through implementation, enhancements, content management and training.
California State Park and Recreation Commission Renames Patrick’s Point State Park to Sue-meg State Park 
Story from: Communications and Marketing Division

The California State Park and Recreation Commission voted unanimously on Thursday, September 30, to rename Patrick’s Point State Park to Sue-meg State Park to honor the place name used by the Yurok people since time immemorial. The Commission also adopted a long-range management plan for Auburn State Recreation Area (SRA). 
The renaming of Patrick’s Point to Sue-meg State Park is one example of how California State Parks is reviewing contested place names, monuments and interpretation across the State Park System as part of the Reexamining Our Past Initiative. This is a larger project within California state government to identify and redress discriminatory names of features attached to the state parks and transportation systems.
“California State Parks applauds the California State Park and Recreation Commission’s approval to rename Patrick’s Point State Park to Sue-meg ('Sue-meh') State Park,” said California State Parks Director Armando Quintero. “This is the first park name change as part of the state’s Reexamining Our Past Initiative and is a momentous step to heal relationships with Native Americans and working together in recognition and honor of indigenous cultural and linguistic relationships.”
The public was invited to participate in a live Zoom event on October 4, hosted by State Parks’ nonprofit support entity Parks California, with representatives from the Yurok Tribe—in addition to California State Parks, the Governor’s Office, Natural Resources Agency, and Parks California—to discuss the cultural significance of Sue-meg State Park and celebrate the Yurok community. 


Stewards of the Coast and Redwoods Welcomes Justin Lindenberg as New Executive Director

By: Michele Luna, Executive Director, Stewards of the Coast and Redwoods 

Stewards of the Coast and Redwoods welcomes Justin Lindenberg as our new executive director on October 1. Justin joins Stewards after five years with Save the Redwoods League as corporate and foundation relations manager. He brings a wealth of experience in fundraising and donor management, having secured major grants for local and national environmental education, land acquisition and restoration projects. Throughout his career, Justin has worked collaboratively with agencies, nonprofits and individuals committed to positive change and is excited to build new partnerships at Stewards, working closely with Stewards’ staff, board and State Parks’ colleagues.

A confluence of significant events marks the beginning of Justin’s leadership. Armstrong Redwoods State Natural Reserve and Austin Creek State Recreation Area are soon to be reopened following the 2020 Walbridge Fire. In November, Stewards will kick off a strategic planning process after having recently secured a renewal of our multiyear co-management agreement and multi-decade cooperating association agreement with California State Parks. Additionally, the COVID-19 pandemic, social justice movement, along with flooding in 2019 and more recent wildfires have all challenged our communities to join forces in new ways. Together, these offer a unique opportunity to forge a new vision around climate resilience, park access and equity in experiencing the special places that Stewards protects.

I work part-time as executive director emerita through the end of the year to ensure a smooth transition to Justin’s leadership.

Stewards of the Coast and Redwoods' Board and staff welcome Justin Lindenberg as our new executive director to succeed Michele Luna. His experience and perspective are key to moving Stewards toward realizing our vision of serving as “the link between people and their parks.”  Michele has built a phenomenal organization, partnering with State Parks to provide stewardship and protection of our precious natural resources, community education, the enrichment of visitor experience and above all, public access to the parks, which nourish us all. We are grateful to Michele for working part-time with Justin until the end of the year to support a smooth transition.  ~ Hollis Bewley, Stewards board president 

We look forward to welcoming members, volunteers, supporters and new friends to celebrate Michele’s retirement after 27 years with the organization and to meet Justin in person at Stewards’ Annual Volunteer Celebration on Saturday, December 4. 

For more about Stewards of the Coast and Redwoods, please visit, email or call (707) 869-9177.

Unique Volunteer Spotlight: Volunteers of Boucher Hill Fire Lookout in Palomar Mountain State Park

By: Rachel Young, Partnerships Division

When people think of California State Parks volunteers, what often comes to mind are docents leading museum tours, teams of volunteers maintaining a park trail or a camp host who provided helpful assistance during a recent camping trip. But there are many types of State Parks volunteers who do unique types of work, often unseen by most park visitors. One of these is the team of volunteers who staff the Boucher Hill Fire Lookout in Palomar Mountain State Park (SP).
Every year during fire season, a dedicated group of approximately 60 volunteers staff the tower to look out for and report evidence of fires. These volunteers also plot and report the location of lightning strikes, call in vehicle accidents and building fires, and collect and report weather data to aid fire crews. Visitors to the park have the opportunity to learn about the history and functionality of the tower from these volunteers, and before the COVID-19 pandemic hit, visitors could even get interpretive tours of the tower.

The Boucher Hill Fire Lookout is just one of two lookout towers on Palomar Mountain. The other, the High Point Lookout Tower, is located within the Cleveland National Forest. Because the lookout towers service both State Parks and the National Forest Service, Boucher Hill Fire Lookout volunteers are dual volunteers, wearing patches for both agencies.

Lookout volunteers serve anywhere from one to five eight-hour shifts per month, but on red flag days, their shift could extend up to 12 hours. Despite the long hours, the Boucher Hill Fire Lookout volunteers are passionate and committed to their service, and some volunteers have been serving in this program for as long as a decade.
Ernie and Kati Cowan and Fenton Sue are just some of the tower’s exceptional volunteers. When asked what their most rewarding experience has been as a Boucher Hill Fire Lookout volunteer, Kati recalled the opportunities she has had to talk to visitors from all over the country and world, as well as getting to enjoy the springtime beauty that comes with the wildflower and dogwood blossoms. Ernie appreciates the excitement of spotting and reporting a wildfire and knowing that they are “making a significant difference and protecting the natural environment.” Fenton especially enjoyed the opportunity to serve alongside a former lookout volunteer who was a middle school teacher and would bring his students for a tour and mapping exercise each year. Many of the students were inspired by the work of the lookout volunteers and expressed interest in becoming a lookout volunteer themselves.

Work in the tower can be, in the words of Ernie Cowan, “hours of tranquility, interrupted by moments of choreographed chaos when a smoke is spotted.” But the knowledge that the work they are doing makes a difference and contributes to the safety of San Diego and Riverside Counties is one of the things that brings these dedicated volunteers back season after season. When asked what recommendations they have for someone considering volunteering, Ernie’s recommendation is to “find a park you like and don’t be shy about offering your time and talents. State parks are our parks and we should be willing to help protect them.”
Next time you find yourself at Palomar Mountain SP, take some time to visit Boucher Hill and the fire lookout tower and learn from the volunteers there. If you are interested in learning more about the tower, you can go to the website for Friends of Palomar Mountain State Park or the website for the San Diego-Riverside Chapter of the Forest Fire Lookout Association. If you are interested in becoming a Boucher Hill Fire Lookout volunteer, you can contact


New Concession Agreements 
  • Anchored Eats
    • Folsom Lake State Recreation Area began its new five-year concession contract with Anchored Eats to operate and maintain a floating food service boat.
  • Total Body Fitness
    • Folsom Lake State Recreation Area began its new five-plus-five-year concession contract with Total Body Fitness to operate multi-sports training, coaching and classes, including trail runs, mountain biking, road biking and open water swim classes at Nimbus Flat (Lake Natoma), Beal’s Point and Granite Bay Beach (Folsom Lake). 
  • Creative Excursion
    • Lake Oroville State Recreation Area began its new three-year concession contract with Creative Excursion to operate and maintain glamping services at Loafer Creek Campground.
  • California State Parks has extended a Proud Partner agreement with Hipcamp Inc. and Conduent Inc. for the sponsorship and online campsite reservation referral access. The six-month pilot agreement was extended two years, through July 31, 2023.

New Park Impact Partners Program Agreements 

  • Wilder Ranch State Park-Santa Cruz County Regional Transportation: The Santa Cruz County Regional Transportation Commission entered into an operating agreement with the Department of Parks and Recreation to develop, construct, operate, control and maintain a portion of Wilder Ranch State Park.
  • Hearst San Simeon State Park-Friends of the Elephant Seal: The Friends of the Elephant Seal entered into a cooperating association agreement to support the interpretation, education, operation and maintenance programs at Hearst San Simeon State Park.
  • Marshall Gold Discovery State Historic Park-Gold Discovery Park Association: The Gold Discovery Park Association entered into a cooperating association agreement to support the interpretation, education, operation and maintenance programs at Marshall Gold Discovery State Historic Park.

Partnership Spotlight on Parks Project

By: Rene Hamlin, Partnerships Division

Do you desire more State Parks gear? Do you wear our logo with pride? We have just the partnership for you: Announcing the newest apparel and swag collection from Parks Project. Five percent of sales from the California State Parks-Parks Project collaboration will fund the department's Junior Ranger Program, which connects youth with California’s State Park System via geology, ecology, safety, plants and wildlife activities.
The collection, launched in September, features the classic California state bear against a golden background—reminiscent of the state itself—on a hooded sweatshirt, short-sleeve T-shirt, long sleeve T-shirt, hat and enamel mug.
As a California-founded company, Parks Project sees protecting public lands in their home state as an essential part of its mission and has partnered for the first time with a state park system to create a capsule collection in honor of California’s state parks.
“We know that getting outside and exploring is not only good for teaching people how to be stewards and advocates for places like parks in California, but also a great way to get exercise and is awesome for mental health,” said Sevag Kazanci, Parks Project cofounder. “Going out and being in the parks is only the first step for us—at the end of the day, it’s also about making sure we’re leaving places like these better than we found them.”
"California State Parks is grateful to partner with Parks Project, a company who brings awareness and access to public outdoor spaces and helps preserve parklands,” said California State Parks Director Armando Quintero. “We hope to see the vintage apparel out in state parks, representing a new generation of park advocates. This partnership is just one more way we can welcome diversity, access and awareness to California’s beloved state parks."
Click here to check out Parks Project’s California State Parks collection.

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