Our 2016 Youth Art Contest is now open! The theme of this year’s contest is ‘”Discover State Parks” and we invite youth ages 4-18 to participate by creating artwork that shares their experiences in state parks and what they have discovered during their visits.
It’s hard to imagine how planners for the Transportation Corridor Agencies, which builds and operates Orange County’s toll road system, could have devised a more environmentally damaging route. The opposition was so vehement, and the toll road agency so committed to the project, that it seemed the fight would never end. But it did earlier this month. The agency announced that it would never build the controversial route, ensuring the permanent protection of San Onofre State Beach and other sensitive environmental and cultural resources in the area. The deal was part of a settlement to end several lawsuits filed by the California attorney general and a coalition of environmental groups that sought to block the project.
Lucine Luna of Windsor paused along a trail in Jack London State Historic Park on Friday, gazing at part of the 1,400-acre Beauty Ranch once owned by the famous author.
“The colors of the vineyards are just — wow,” she said, observing the post-harvest red and yellow grape leaves adorning a slope. “That’s why we’re here.”
Luna and her daughter, Kathryn, were among the thousands of folks who opted to feast their eyes — for free — on Mother Nature’s cornucopia a day after feasting on Thanksgiving turkey.
The Lunas claimed two of the 13,000 parking and admission passes offered online in the inaugural Green Friday promotion co-sponsored by the California State Parks and two nonprofits, the Save the Redwoods League and California State Parks Foundation.
It’s fair to say that, for the better part of three decades, NRDC has had a difficult relationship with the Transportation Corridor Agencies (TCA) of Orange County, the toll road agency that has been trying for years to build a toll road through the California State Park at San Onofre State Beach.
With that long history in mind, it is extraordinary to announce today a landmark agreement between the TCA, California Attorney General Kamala Harris, and a broad coalition of national and local environmental groups, including NRDC. In short, the agreement will protect San Onofre State Beach, the Richard and Donna O’Neill Conservancy and San Mateo Creek while also allowing for exploration of other transportation solutions for South Orange County.
“For most of these students, they’ll never have the opportunity to come here to see this unique part of the California coast and the effects of preservation firsthand,” he says, sporting a wide-brimmed hat and khaki park ranger uniform. “Now we get to bring the park to them.”
The virtual field trips, or “distance learning,” as the state of California calls the web-based tours, were created through a California State Parks program called Parks Online Resources for Teachers and Students, with additional funding coming from the state Department of Fish and Wildlife.
The PORTS program began in 2004, when multimedia platforms on the internet were still in their infancy. Williford says park interpreters would give interactive tours while standing in front of a green screen inside a studio.
Due to issues involving its condition, the Anderson Marsh State Historic Park Ranch House has been temporarily closed and the popular Christmas event has been canceled this year. During the Clayton fire in Lower Lake in August, State Park Rangers and maintenance staff evacuated valuable items from the ranch house. During this process, State Parks determined that extensive cleaning and repair will be needed before the ranch house can be reopened to the public.
According to the San Francisco-based nonprofit Trust for Public Land, more than 100 parks and open space measures were on the ballot in 2016, more than in any year since the 2008 recession; voters approved 80 percent of them. That’s worth celebrating, particularly in California, where the day after Thanksgiving is temperate enough in most places for us to #OptOutside, as the annual REI promotion puts it, and seek pastimes besides Black Friday bargains. This year, the Save the Redwoods League has teamed up with the California State Parks Foundation and the state Department of Parks and Recreation to offer first-come, first-serve free passes on Friday to 116 state parks.
The pact, announced after the Foothill-Eastern Transportation Corridor Agency Board voted 10-2 behind closed doors Thursday, settles lawsuits that sprang from the board’s desire to carve a toll road into previously donated park land—and perilously close to the world famous Trestles surf break.
Photo Credit: Della Huff