View this email in your browser

The Human Connection to Our State Parks

By Myrian Solis Coronel, Director of Community Engagement, Parks California

Partnerships would like to introduce you to the first of a four-part series in which Parks California will explore innovative approaches to increasing access to California state parks. As a statutory partner, Parks California has a simple mission—to help strengthen parks and inspire all to experience these extraordinary places. We hope you find the series insightful. For additional information, visit the Parks California website.

Innovative Approaches to Increasing Park Access:
Our connection with nature is as diverse as the California landscapes and our people. At Parks California, we believe entry points to nature vary from person to person. This means that ensuring parks are seen as parks for all is critical to the well-being of our park system.
Combining 280 park units and a 156-year history, California State Parks has pioneered programs for the benefit of all Californians. The hope is that these programs present meaningful connections to nature and a deeper understanding of shared history. Today, as our country grapples with fundamental questions about equity and injustice, we spotlight three programs that work to make visits to California state parks a more inclusive and relevant experience for all.
  • Relevancy and History Project: We are often drawn to stories, but for many people of color, they do not see their stories reflected in public spaces. To address this, State Parks launched the Relevancy and History Project driven by the Transformation Team, to research untold stories from our state parks.
By telling additional stories in parks, new communities are validated and engaged as stakeholders to help restructure the narrative of a public space.
Learn more at California Sweet N Sour Citrus and the Santa Barbara Trust for Historic Preservation websites.
Postcard for the exhibition, Finding Ourselves in the Groves: Stories and Storytellers of Citrus in Inland Southern California (2018) featuring Reverend William G. and Elizabeth Boswell Goodwin, posed in a Riverside citrus grove for their formal portrait (c. 1895)
  • Development of new and revitalized parks: Community access to nearby nature is scientifically proven to create a positive change to community members’ mental and physical health. In many cases, communities become closer and safer when green space is available within walking distance. The Office of Community Involvement’s Statewide Park Development and Community Revitalization Program  has made it a priority to connect with communities about their needs as new or revitalized public spaces are developed. Meeting people where they are—their community hubs—welcomes conversation and trust. State Parks’ approach changes the norm, helping to ensure park bond funds lead with equity to develop public spaces that are open and welcoming to all.  
  • Community Liaison Program: Taking the successes of the Promotora (health liaison) model, the Los Angeles State Historic Park (LASHP) launched the PromotorX program where parks became the nucleus of local community conversation. Promotora are trained park advocates who serve as liaisons between their communities, local schools and LASHP. LASHP serves as a gateway experience to the greater California State Park System, and this community liaison program brokers dialogue by building peer-to-peer trust and informing culturally relevant programs in LASHP and other nearby parks. Although many residents are hesitant to trust official institutions, a trusted community source like the Promotora liaison can bring credibility and build relationships. 

Pictured above is the Promotrx group who are gathered for a safe and social distant walk at LASHP.

We often think of parks just as places and may sometimes forget the human and ecological connection. Some people find their entry point to parks via recreation, and others may find it through history or stewardship. The programs and initiatives described above reflect the importance of recognizing the different connections and entry points people have to parks, and one thing is true: Our state parks bring people and places together to create memorable experiences.



To stay up to date with the latest State Parks COVID-19 information, be sure to visit the State Parks COVID-19 Resource Center.

Annual Pass Extension

Due to the unprecedented state park shutdowns due to the COVID-19 pandemic, State Parks is extending annual passes for three months to those pass holders who meet the criteria. Please visit the Annual and Special Pass Descriptions webpage for more information. 

Secretary Speaker Series
On July 15, 2020, the California Natural Resources Agency hosted a virtual event titled “What We Can Learn from Our Past to Move Toward an Equitable Future.” The talk was part of  Secretary Crowfoot’s Speaker Series, which are discussions with leaders from across California to discuss emerging natural resources issues. They are held in an open forum, allowing for new and different perspectives about how we can best steward California’s resources. The July 15 talk traced the history of systemic and institutional racism and how it translates into today’s workplaces, institutions and general daily life.
To view this virtual event, please click here. For a full list of links to past series events, please click here.

Industry Trends


Check out this amazing segment from the “Today” show, featuring Rue Mapp, Vice Chair of the California State Park Recreation Commission and founder and CEO of the nonprofit Outdoor Afro. She was interviewed in June regarding her work at Outdoor Afro, which celebrates and inspires Black connections and leadership in nature.

During the interview, Commissioner Mapp explained Outdoor Afro’s  work: “We do that through a leadership team of folks that we train to connect people to nature and it really kind of helps people get their nature swagger back!”


Public Input in Park Operations: Assessing Opportunities for Future Growth

By David M. Block, Concession Specialist, Partnerships Division

Public opinion of a state park’s operations is inherently valuable. The opinion helps guide the type of services chosen and how those services will be provided, while also still allowing for the proper management of each park unit. The public can help park employees better understand what is working at each park, what they think is needed and how park staff can continue to enhance visitor services and protect park resources. 

Even though many people are staying home due to COVID-19, park use is still high across California. The East Bay Regional Park District (EBRPD) has estimated that trail use in its parks has doubled since the governor’s stay-at-home order was put in place in March. Increased park use presents a great opportunity to assess how the public currently views state park operations and to gauge what they feel are missing in state parks. The public may also be visiting state parks closer to home that they may have frequented as often before COVID-19, allowing for a fresh assessment of how less-visited parks are doing. It is also important to understand how visitors are currently using state parks during COVID-19 to alleviate any potential negative impacts from improper park usage.

State Park districts can use a variety of tools and metrics to gauge public opinion on state park operations, including the use of social media platforms and online surveys. Park staff can analyze how the public viewed park units before and during COVID-19 to start planning for the resumption of continued and new services to the public when parks are able to fully reopen. State Park's partners play a critical role in understanding the needs of visitors and can assist districts in evaluating visitor services.   

Now is a great time to explore new or expanded concession opportunities and interpretive ideas to help revive local businesses and allow parks to operate at their maximum potential when they reopen. Parks can assess new concepts that promote healthy living, such as a variety of guided tours and equipment rentals, and can continue to incorporate healthy food alternatives into food and beverage concessions.

Parks play a valuable role in mental health, and it is crucial that State Parks provide opportunities for the public to help themselves recover and rejuvenate from the impacts of COVID-19. According to an EBRPD survey of residents in Alameda and Contra Costa Counties:
  • 96% of respondents say keeping regional parks and trails open during the pandemic has been important.
  • 90% believe having access to regional parks and trails has been important to their health and well-being.
  • 92% say the pandemic has had an impact on their mental health.
  • 94% believe parks will play an equal or greater role when the pandemic is over.
In addition, the National Park Service provides the following statistics on the benefits of being out in nature:
  • Communities closer to nature have stronger ties with their community members.
  • A 30-minute visit to a park can improve heart health, circulation and lower cholesterol, blood glucose and blood pressure.
  • Walking in nature reduces inflammation and boosts your immune system, which decreases the risk of certain diseases and cancers.
  • Interacting with a green space increases social interactions, which can prevent diseases like dementia.
  • Five minutes walking in nature improves mood, self-esteem and relaxation.
  • Physical activity in a green space can reduce stress and lowers cortisol levels by 15%.
  • Children who walk 20 minutes in a park concentrate in school longer and have better participation.
The future is looking bright for State Parks to provide enhanced wellness activities for the public in their beautiful, natural settings. The public will undoubtedly be looking to get out and explore the great outdoors once COVID-19 restrictions are lifted, and State Parks will be prepared to meet their expectations

Protecting the Environment for Thousands of Years
By Chad Kaimanu Jackson, Associate State Archaeologist, and Cara O’Brien, Interpretive Program Manager, San Luis Obispo Coast District

Meet Haylee Bautista who is a member of the yak titʸu titʸu yak tiłhini Northern Chumash Tribe, or Obispeño, whose homeland is San Luis Obispo County. She volunteers as a docent in Morro Bay, California and helps inform her community about protecting their wildlife and plant life in Marine Protected Areas. Mission San Luis Obispo was established in their territory in 1772, and immense change followed, yet portions of their culture persevered. Today Haylee and other members of the tribe carry on their heritage, sharing their culture through education, outreach and practice of cultural traditions like language, song and dance.

Pictures left is Haylee Bautista, and on the right is Sara Gaw who are pictured kayaking in the bay of Morro Bay near the Natural History Museum doing a Sea Life Stewards program, where they educate about marine conservation.

Through the Museum of Natural History at Morro Bay State Park, she is involved in programs like Sea Life Stewards (@SeaLifeStewards), intertwining conservation and marine science curriculum with information about local Chumash culture. She emphasizes the interconnectedness between environmental conservation and indigenous land and water management practices. Haylee views conservation of the environment as a cultural tradition of her people, and one in which she is carrying on. For example, protecting animals such as the Tuhuski’i and Tpene—native words for bear and sea lion—are a direct way of honoring her ancestors and our planet.

Haylee and her sister Kelsey are traditional Obispeño singers and perform at cultural events and land recognition ceremonies. It’s truly in their blood as Haylee and Kelsey’s great grandmother, Rosario Cooper, was one of the last living speakers of the Obispeño language. In the early 1900s, Rosario worked with J.P. Harrington, documenting Obispeño culture and language. Through her efforts to revive language and culture, Kelsey traveled with others to the Smithsonian in Washington D.C. to access original pages from Harrington’s work with Rosario Cooper and listened to original wax cylinder recordings of her singing traditional songs.

Since then, a language committee has been established, continuing research and allowing more tribal members to become Obispeño speakers. With this knowledge and teamwork and the leadership of Haylee and Kelsey, the tribe has been able to share their culture within local communities through public outreach and partnerships with agencies like California State Parks.

Haylee’s commitment as a partner of California State Parks continues through her role an educator, docent, planning team member and as a cochair of the San Luis Obispo Marine Protected Area (MPA) Collaborative. One example of her work can be found at through the MPA Collaborative Network, where she conceptualized with the planning staff and her tribe to create colorful pages teaching children about protecting marine resources with Obispeño words and has been enjoyed by hundreds of students so far!

Haylee has been a dedicated partner of California State Parks, where she works with San Luis Obispo Coast District staff, school groups, docents and visitors. Thanks to Haylee and others, the culture, language, legacy and original people of San Luis Obispo are being recognized and play a critical role in the conservation of natural and cultural resources in California.

Park Operator Receives Endorsement from the National Endowment for the Humanities

By Anne Petersen, Executive Director, Santa Barbara Trust for Historic Preservation

The Santa Barbara Trust for Historic Preservation (SBTHP), which operates El Presidio de Santa Barbara State Historic Park (EPSBSHP), is pleased to be a partner at one of the two pilot sites for the Relevancy and History Project. The project combines the resources of the University of California , California State Parks and other partners to create innovative history programs at State Parks.

SBTHP has maintained a strong relationship with the University of California, Santa Barbara, (UCSB) for much of our organizational history, with faculty serving on our board, current students conducting internships, and alumni, like myself, serving in staff positions. The Relevancy and History Project has enabled the already strong partnership between State Parks, the park operator and the university to flourish and deepen in the last couple of years. We now have a consistent pipeline for history graduate students to conduct projects in the park, which serves as a platform for our team to build valuable new relationships, and we have accelerated progress toward our strategic programmatic goals.

Last fall, SBTHP’s educators collaborated with a team of UCSB history graduate students and Randy Bergstrom, the director of the UCSB Public History program, along with State Parks district staff and English and history teachers at Santa Barbara Junior High School, to create a new program designed for seventh graders, an audience who SBTHP had identified as underserved by local cultural organizations.

The program, called “Where We Are From” (WWAF), is a multiweek, cross-disciplinary interactive program held at EPSBSHP that reaches approximately 400 seventh-grade students and their families. The program involves hands-on, multimedia and digital learning activities utilizing the park’s historical resources.

Kevin McGarry educator and SPTHP Associate Director of Public Engagement, “The project highlights and promotes the diversity of Santa Barbara, especially the layered, cultural history of El Presidio State Historic Park. Where We Are From is a student-centered educational experience designed to deepen the connection the participating seventh graders have to their own family stories, as well as our collective past as a multicultural community.”

WWAF demonstrates that the shared strength of diverse partners can produce a product that is more impactful and creative than the resources of any single entity. The pilot year was so successful that all partners look forward to holding the program again this year and working toward sustainability for years to come.

One of SBTHP’s strengths as a nonprofit is our capacity for fundraising, and in the spring, we wrote a successful grant to the National Endowment for the Humanities CARES program to fund this year’s program. While providing critical operating support for staff and UCSB graduate students, the grant will also enable the project partners to retool the program with innovative virtual, remote learning components to respond to the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic, and also to conceptualize how this program could be exported to other parks. Only 14% of grant applications to this competitive program were funded, which speaks to the strength of this cross-disciplinary and cross-agency collaboration.



By Kevin White, Concession Specialist, Partnerships Division

With all the research gathered from various sources, it just seems to make a lot of sense to vacation in places where physical distancing can possibly be attained. A recent Expedia survey,  found that 85% of American households are looking to camping as the go-to vacation during the COVID-19 pandemic outbreak. “The Dyrt,” a camping search and review platform, is seeing an astronomical spike in interest. CEO of “The Dyrt” Kevin Long says, “According to Google Trends data, searches for ‘camping’ are the highest they’ve been since 2011.
Governor Newsome's stay-at-home order, put in place to slow the spread of COVID-19, has triggered many families’ to look to outdoor recreational activities and open landscapes where they may enjoy time together in settings with a lower risk of transmission of the virus. This has also opened the door to a whole new camping individual, who does not have years of experience and is missing real world understanding of what is meant to be a responsible camper. Preparation is the key, and it’s always a good idea to create a list of essentials needed for an enjoyable, safe and responsible vacation.
The National Park Service advises hikers and campers to bring masks and hand sanitizer, along with their "10 Essentials" list:
  1. Maps and navigation systems
  2. Water
  3. Food and cooking gear
  4. A first aid kit
  5. Sun protection
  6. Clothing, including jackets, rain gear, etc.
  7. Shelter: tent, sleeping gear and supplies
  8. Flashlights and lanterns
  9. Matches, lighters and fire starters
  10. Repair kit and tools
Click here to view the AAA camping survival tips!

Juneteenth 2020 at Colonel Allensworth State Historic Park

By Jerelyn Olivera, State Parks Interpreter I, Great Basin District

Juneteenth is the oldest-known U.S. celebration of the end of slavery. Colonel Allensworth State Historic Park has held a Juneteenth celebration every June for the past 25 years. Unfortunately, due to COVID-19, the park had to cancel the 2020 celebration. Parks Online Resources for Teachers and Students (PORTS) Coordinator Brandon Caskey suggested the park could offer a virtual tour on June 19 to continue this yearly celebration. What a great idea but with so much to tell about the park, the Colonel, the celebration … where to begin?

The history of Juneteenth started on June 19, 1865, Union soldiers landed in Galveston, Texas, with news that the American Civil War had ended and all slaves were free. This was two years after President Lincoln signed the Emancipation Proclamation.

In 1865, Col. Allen Allensworth, a former slave, was honorably discharged from the U.S. Navy. At 23, he was looking to start the next stage of his life. Colonel Allensworth rose to prominence as the highest-ranking Black officer of his time. Additionally, among his many accomplishments, he served as the only Black delegate from Kentucky in the Republican National Convention, gained an appointment as a military chaplain to a unit in the Buffalo Soldiers and served in the U.S. Army for 20 years, retiring in 1906. In 1908 he founded the township of Allensworth, California, an all-Black farming community in California’s San Joaquin Valley.

The town of Allensworth has been preserved as a state park, known as Colonel Allensworth State Historic Park since 1976, honoring and preserving the only town founded, funded and governed by African Americans in California.

To bring our vistors through this virtual tour we felt that the Colonel’s home was the best place to start, and with the help of one of the park’s docents, Amanda Moore, the mood was set to learn more about this unique time and place in history. With State Park Interpreter II, Lori Wear behind the camera and Great Basin Cultural Manager, Steve Ptomey filming for Facebook Live, I welcomed virtual visitors to the park and Amanda welcomed them into the home of Colonel Allen Allensworth and his wife, Josephine. Amanda explained the meaning of Juneteenth and what it would have meant to the community of Allensworth, and gave a tour of the Allensworths’ home.

Pictured to the right is Amanda Moore, who has been a docent since 2008 and lives locally in the town of Delano and volunteers at most events and help on school programs

The tour continued with a day in the life of the children of Allensworth. I introduced the Phillips family and explained what children did to get ready in the morning before heading off to school. I also presented a picture of the daily rituals the family went through—including getting up, getting dressed, using the bathroom, making breakfast—all showing us how life then in certain ways was close to the way we live our lives today. However, there are two notable distinctions: They did their daily rituals without the use of electricity and running water.

The tour concluded at the schoolhouse, one of the original buildings in the park. A good education was one of the main reasons families moved to Allensworth. First through eighth grades were taught in the schoolhouse. The students learned everything from reading, writing and arithmetic, to agriculture, music and, most importantly, Black history. The schoolhouse served as the community center, church and civic hall. The schoolhouse was used until 1972 and became part of the park in 1976. If the walls could talk, imagine what they would say.

Supporting Concession Business Partners in Their Time of Need

By Jared Zucker, Concessions Program Manager, Partnerships Division

California State Parks is unique in its ability to deliver public services in partnership with other public agencies, as well as private and nonprofit business partners. With a concession portfolio exceeding 200 concession operations in more than 80 parks throughout the state, California State Parks has taken unprecedented steps to ensure the continued viability of these operations as the COVID-19 pandemic persists. California State Parks, through close communication with concessionaires, the California Parks Hospitality Association, the Natural Resources Agency and the Governor’s Office developed a multipronged approach to address critical concessionaire issues in their time of need. 

As the pandemic spread, park closures became more frequent to limit person-to-person interaction that could lead to increased transmission. As parks closed, most concession operations halted as well, thus impacting concessionaire’s ability to generate revenue, maintain its workforce and support their families. In April, and consistent with typical rent relief protocol, California State Parks committed to waiving concessionaire minimum rent requirements for at least one year. It soon became clear that the minimum rent waiver would not be enough and as park closures persisted, additional rent relief measures had to be considered. 

In July, California State Parks rolled out a comprehensive rent relief package that included a reduction in performance bond requirements, the application of a sliding scale rent waiver for concessionaires that pay rent based on a percentage of their revenues, as well as the ability for concessionaires to request a contract extension to help with the amortization of capital improvements required by their contracts. To provide additional support for concessions with month-to-month contracts, California State Parks issued a moratorium on bidding or renegotiating their contracts through June 30, 2021, to provide reassurance that these concessionaires would not lose their contracts while they try to recover from the financial strain brought by COVID-19.

These extraordinary times have forced parks and recreation agencies across the country to adapt their visitor service strategies and their relationships with partners who contribute to those efforts. California State Parks, through its unprecedented relief efforts, reaffirms the commitment to its partners and will continue to do so as we continue together to navigate through an uncertain future. A sincere thank you to all who have contributed to the rent relief discussion.


Natural Resource Volunteer Day: Point Lobos State Natural Reserve

By Kimiya Ghadiri, Volunteer Program Coordinator, Monterey District

Be sure to check out our posts on Instagram and Facebook regarding the Natural Resource Volunteer Day at Point Lobos State Natural Reserve that took place on July 20,2020. On this workday, volunteers removed invasive plant species, such as slender ice plants, while making sure to follow the COVID-19 guidelines.

This event was important because of the work done restoring native and sensitive habitats at Point Lobos State Natural Reserve, while bringing together a community of like-minded individuals interested in supporting parks and preserving their natural resources.


CALPA Conference Goes Virtual for 2020

Nonprofit partners of California State Parks and State Parks staff are invited to join the 2020 California League of Park Associations (CALPA) conference, Oct. 19-23, 2020. Due to COVID-19, the conference will be held virtually but still will deliver valuable training and networking opportunities. Learn more and register at

Coping with the Times: Employee Assistance Program Available Free to State Employees

By Natural Resources Agency

As a reminder, the Employee Assistance Program (EAP) is provided for free to state employees. Many of us are feeling anxiety from compounded national and worldwide crises right now. We are truly experiencing unprecedented levels of stress. You are allotted services for one-on-one sessions (done virtually right now) for each fiscal year. So, if you have not used this EAP service and you planned on using it, now is a good time! You will be able to use up your services from this contracted year and then have these services begin again in July next year.

EAP services are provided as short-term solutions, but you can also check with your medical health provider for long-term solutions for mental health care if needed. The toll-free number to access free, confidential counseling services is (800) 327-7451 (TTY 711). The Magellan EAP website for state workers has more general information. Remember they provide one-on-one sessions with a therapist (done virtually right now) AND Talk Space texting sessions with a therapist. You can utilize both. Check out your options.

As a reminder, for all eligible state employees and family members, the toll-free number to access free, confidential EAP consultation services is (866) 327-4762.

California Fire Science Seminar Series

This new online seminar series will cover the breadth of wildland fire research relevant to California and introduce researchers to new topics and research groups across the state. Topics will include fire weather, wildfire risk, fire ecology, remote sensing, emissions, fire dynamics, fire modeling and public health. Did we mention that it's free? So be sure to check it out!

Click here to register for the webinar!


World Wave Expeditions dba The Camp Store began a 10-year contract in May 2020, to operate the camp store at South Carlsbad State Beach. Learn more about this new concession here. 
In July, Kosay Kumeyaay Market began a three-year contract to operate an interpretive Kumeyaay market in Old Town San Diego State Historic Park.
Curbside Bites began a one-year contract in May 2020, to operate a mobile food truck at Silver Strand State Beach. Learn more about this new concession here.

Camping Adventures began a five-year concession contract in July 2020, with the state’s option to extend the contract an additional five years, to provide trailer services at Leo Carrillo and Point Mugu State Parks in Los Angeles and Ventura Counties. Learn more about the concession here.

Ricochet Ridge Ranch will begin a five-year concession contract, with the state's option to extend the contract an additional five years, to provide guided equestrian rides at MacKerricher State Park. Learn more about the concession here.


Be sure to follow the Partnerships Division social media channels on Instagram and Facebook!
Copyright © 2020 California State Parks and Recreation: The Partnerships Division, All rights reserved.

Want to change how you receive these emails?
You can update your preferences or unsubscribe from this list.

Email Marketing Powered by Mailchimp