September 18, 2020

Photo of the Week

Antelope Valley Indian Museum State Historic Park
An almost-camouflaged cottontail rabbit.
Photo from Peggy Ronning, Great Basin District
State Parks Offers Tips For New Visitors Enjoying the Outdoors During Pandemic 
Story from: Communications and Marketing Division
California State Parks understands the importance of being in the outdoors, especially during these challenging times. The outdoors has been an escape for many during the COVID-19 pandemic, and being outside has many benefits such as boosting our energy, getting our daily dose of vitamin D and restoring our focus.
As more visitors appreciate and spend time in the outdoors, it is important to remember each of us plays a vital role in protecting the natural, cultural and historical resources. Our staff are noticing more litter, and although we have increased trash and maintenance capacity, it is important to be conscious of the effects our actions have on plants, wildlife and other people. Following the “Leave No Trace Behind” rule can help minimize the impacts to the natural beauty of our state parks so that future generations can also enjoy them.
With cooler weather and cleaner air in most of California this weekend, spending time in the outdoors will be a great escape for many to unwind during this pandemic. As you head out to your local state parks and beaches, please remember the following tips:
  • Plan Ahead
  • Stay Local
  • Stay Safer at 6 feet
  • Leave No Trace
  • Wear a Face Covering
  • Stay on Trails
  • Take Water and Snacks
  • Respect Wildlife
Read our blog on how you can enjoy the outdoors safely and responsibly during the pandemic:
Click here to submit your articles and photos for the Weekly Digest
State Parks Biodiversity Day Draws More Than 2,000 Observations from Participants 
Story from: Leah Gardner, Natural Resources Division
Bay Area District provided a presentation on State Parks’ vital role in protecting biodiversity, hosted by the Golden Gate National Parks Conservancy. Top row (left to right): One Tam Community Science Program Manager for the Golden Gate National Parks Conservancy Lisette Arellano, Environmental Scientist Bill Miller and Senior Environmental Scientist Supervisor Cyndy Shafer. Bottom row (left to right): Senior Environmental Scientist Specialist Rosa Schneider, Environmental Scientist Christina Freeman and Environmental Scientist Bree Hardcastle. 
California celebrated its second annual Biodiversity Day, September 5 to 13, despite challenges and restrictions imposed by COVID-19, wildfires and poor air quality.
Species observations for bioblitzes are still being submitted and identified, but here are a few preliminary highlights:
  • Prairie Creek Redwoods and Humboldt Redwoods state parks held a bioblitz competition. Humboldt won with 818 observations of 290 species.
  • Combined numbers for all five state parks bioblitzes: 2,047 observations of 735 species.
  • The most observed species was our coast redwood, Sequoia sempervirens.
Many other events were held, including virtual park tours, webinars and presentations on Facebook and YouTube. Hope you got to see some of them!
Thank you to all our hosts, presenters, leaders, organizers and participants—including seven State Parks districts. We are especially grateful to you all for making time in your busy schedules to plan events and activities to help the public learn about the amazing biodiversity in our state.
Top left: Interpretive Specialist Kyle Achziger giving his daily live update on the bioblitz competition from Gold Bluffs Beach in Prairie Creek Redwoods State Park (SP). Check out the Prairie Creek Redwoods SP Facebook page for more details. Right: Natural Resources Division Senior Environmental Scientist Leah Gardner busily recording observations for the Mono Lake Tufa State Natural Reserve bioblitz using the iNaturalist app. Bottom left: Bay Area District Environmental Scientist Bill Miller shows off his amphibian net and waders while explaining how State Parks protects biodiversity through field monitoring. Photo from Cyndy Shafer, Bay Area District. 
You ‘Otter’ Check This Out! Join Virtual Sea Otter Awareness Week Virtual Events, September 20 to 26
Story from: Cara O’Brien, San Luis Obispo Coast District
 Mom sea otter grooming her pup. Photo from Heather Barrett, Sea Otter Savvy. 
Celebrate Sea Otter Awareness week, which runs from September 20 to 26, and join us in appreciating the southern sea otter and observe them doing what they “otter” along California’s central coast. In addition to learning about the unique and charismatic southern sea otter, join the many virtual events and find out the latest from experts on the status of the sea otter, view sea otters in their natural habitat and float down the coast to learn about the past to present of sea otters’ fascinating story.
This year's theme, Bridging the Gaps, was chosen to celebrate the valiant little sea otters that live in nearshore waters, raising their pups and performing services that benefit coastal ecosystems and humans. With intention and effort, we can construct a new bridge from our past of exploitation and habitat damage to a future with flourishing nearshore systems. Sooner or later, the gap that exists between the northern sea otter and the southern sea otter will diminish, the populations will meet and mix, and sea otters will once again paddle the entire coast of the eastern North Pacific. 
Sea Otter Awareness Week is a collaboration of Sea Otter Savvy, Defenders of Wildlife and California State Parks, along with the many educational partners that share their sea otter appreciation and educational offerings throughout the week.
To learn more about the weeklong celebration and to register for the virtual events, visit the Sea Otter Awareness Week webpage
Top: Sea otter resting in kelp. Photo from Gena Bentall, Sea Otter Savvy. Bottom: Look closely for the sea otter resting on the other. Photo from Heather Barrett, Sea Otter Savvy. 
Sea otters in eelgrass. Photo from Gena Bentall, Sea Otter Savvy. 
Virtual Fiestas Patrias at Old Town San Diego State Historic Park
Story from: Megan Suster, San Diego Coast District 
Video of virtual Fiestas Patrias event at Old Town San Diego State Historic Park. Note: Individuals in video who are not physical distancing are from same household. Video from Old Town San Diego State Historic Park and NWB Imaging. 
¡Bienvenido a las Fiestas Patrias in Old Town San Diego! Although COVID-19 continues to present unique challenges, Old Town San Diego State Historic Park (SHP) was still able to commemorate National Hispanic Heritage Month in a special way this year with a virtual Fiestas Patrias event. Fiestas Patrias are traditional celebrations of Mexican national pride, independence and culture that take place both in Mexico and the United States. These celebrations coincide with National Hispanic Heritage Month, which is observed from September 15 to October 15 every year.
Five political holidays typically make up Fiestas Patrias, and the most famous is El Diez y Seis de Septiembre, also known as El Grito de Dolores. It began in 1810 when Father Miguel Hidalgo y Costilla preached to his churchgoers in Dolores, Guanajuato, Mexico, that it was time to rise up and break free from Spanish rule. Although Mexico officially won its independence from Spain on Aug. 24, 1821, September 16 is still considered the original independence day. The celebration traditionally starts just before midnight when a grito, or cry, for freedom is done to begin the festivities. The exclamation that is repeated every year―“Mexicanos, viva México!”―is in remembrance of the sacrifice that Father Hidalgo Costilla and his independence fighters made to start the revolution.
Each community commemorates the occasion differently, and in prior years Old Town San Diego SHP traditionally celebrated with music, dancing, living history activities and more. This year, the Boosters of Old Town San Diego generously and creatively redirected a Wells Fargo grant for summer events to partner with NWB Imaging to create a dynamic virtual experience.
The Fiestas Patrias event seeks to focus on national pride and unity among citizens of Mexico, as well as Mexican Americans. For Mexican Americans, Fiestas Patrias have historically served to teach the community about Mexican history and culture, celebrate pride in their cultural roots and claim a sense of place and empowerment in society.
Managing Cultural and Natural Resources at Marshall Gold Discovery State Historic Park During Fire Season
Story and photos from: Jerrie Beard, Gold Fields District
The maintenance crew at Marshall Gold Discovery State Historic Park recently cleared away brush and small trees around and behind St. John's Church. A big shout-out to Tree Pros for taking down the diseased Ponderosa Pine near the bell tower.
Each year we hold our collective breath as fire season approaches. We listen for the wail of sirens, watch the horizon for plumes of smoke and search the scanners for word of local conflagrations. Every year that we are fortunate enough to emerge from fire season unscathed, we thank our lucky stars.
Over the past few months, the interpretive and law enforcement staffs at Marshall Gold Discovery State Historic Park (SHP) have been working on and updating a fire emergency plan for the park. However, having a plan in place and actually executing it can be two divergent processes, especially with a blaze bearing down. So on August 19, to gain a better understanding of how long the evacuation process might take, staff at the historic park began staging artifacts for removal to the Statewide Museum Collections Center at McClellan. With the help of Supervisor Cultural Resources Program Steve Hilton, Historian Matthew Walker and Archaeologist Ian Springer from the Gold Fields District Office, Marshall Gold Discovery SHP staff wrapped and staged larger items of furniture in historic structures so the artifacts would be ready for quick removal should the need arise. Over the next several days Interpreter I Holly Thane and Park Interpretive Specialist Susan Okey coordinated park staff in removing and packing smaller items from the displays in the museum and historic buildings.
Meanwhile Park Maintenance Supervisor Patrick Metcalf was in communication with Steve Hilton, District Maintenance Chief Nathan Harper and Senior Environmental Scientist Meghan Sullivan, developing a plan to create more defensible space around the park’s historic structures. Working in conjunction with the district’s naturalists, the maintenance staff has been hard at work weed-eating, mowing and trimming back blackberries, shrubs and small trees around the buildings. Several diseased and hazard trees have been or are scheduled to be removed, including a more than 150-year-old ponderosa pine near St. John’s Church.
It looked like all the preparation would be put to the test on Tuesday, September 8. Around 11:30 a.m., the Coloma Valley, where the park is located, quickly filled with smoke from the Fork Fire, which erupted about 25 miles east of the park. As the fire made its way west down the steep canyons, staff scurried to box up the remaining artifacts, and several trucks from the district office were staged at the park if all the packed artifacts would indeed need to be removed quickly.
At present, the Fork Fire is progressing slowly, partially because it moved into the burn scar from the 2014 King Fire. We are continuing to monitor its progress, and so far, the fire does not currently appear to be a threat to the park. But, we are ready if the winds should change.
Top: Maintenance Aides Ian McWherter and Tiana Hyland chip brush removed around the Monument House. Bottom left: Park Aide Adam Kay and Worker I Brian Kallen work to remove brush and small trees around I.O.O.F. Hall. Bottom right: Park Interpretive Specialist Susan Okey and Interpreter I Holly Thane carefully pack up artifacts in the museum.
Parks California ParkSpeak Series Invites Visitors to Experience Virtual Adventures Into State Parks
Story from: Communications and Marketing Division
Take a guided virtual tour into California’s state parks through the Parks California ParkSpeak series. Through these tours, visitors can learn about a park’s unique history, people and little-known facts, and hear behind-the-scenes anecdotes.
The ParkSpeak series focuses on a particular park and includes a set of speakers. Last month featured a tour of Patrick’s Point State Park, hosted by North Coast Redwoods District Superintendent Victor Bjelajac and Interpreter Skip Lowry.
Here are the two upcoming virtual tours:
  • La Purísima Mission State Historic Park, Thursday, September 24, 6 p.m. Where early California meets the digital age, learn from La Purísima Mission State Historic Park staff as they share the history of this special place. Speakers are Channel Coast District Superintendent Greg Martin and Interpreter Ann Boggess. Register at
  • Anza-Borrego Desert State Park, Thursday, October 15, 5 p.m. The partnership between Anza-Borrego Desert State Park and the Anza-Borrego Foundation is increasing equitable access for youth. Tune in and learn more about their efforts. Speakers are Colorado Desert District Acting District Superintendent Ray Lennox, Anza-Borrego Foundation Executive Director Bri Fordem, State Park Interpreter II Sally Theriault and State Park Interpreter I Lydia Stinson. Register at
Nonprofit State Parks partner Parks California is taking suggestions on which state parks to explore next. Send an email to Parks California at with the subject line “I have an idea for your ParkSpeak events.”
To view current job openings within California State Parks, please visit our jobs webpage at
Current job opportunities include:
  • Park Maintenance Assistant in Fresno and Santa Barbara Counties
  • Student Assistant in Sacramento County (two positions)
  • Water and Sewage Plant Supervisor in Sonoma, Butte and San Luis Obispo Counties
Style time! Here are this week's tips to help spread the word about our departmentwide style guidelines:
  • "distance learning": Can be used as noun or adjective. No hyphen necessary when used as an adjective. For example: She is taking a distance learning course. 
  • "Election Day," "election night": "Election Day" is capitalized, but "election night" for the November national elections in the United States is lowercase. 
  • "FAQ": Acceptable in ALL uses for "frequently asked questions."
Keeping a consistent writing style ensures the "Weekly Digest" looks and sounds its best. Each week, the Communications and Marketing Division reviews submitted articles for proper grammar and punctuation and style consistency––from capitalization and hyphenation to proper acronyms and active/passive voice­­ usage. In general, we follow the Associated Press style and Merriam-Webster, but at times we use our own department-specific style.
We always welcome your feedback on how to “Live the Parks Life” in (writing) style. Connect with us via email at
Morro Bay State Park
This great horned owl has been spotted a couple of times in the last week outside the natural resources field office. Click on the video above, which was taken
Friday, September 11. 
Video from Marissa Pacheco, San Luis Obispo Coast District
Patrick's Point State Park
A young male deer behind our nursery.
Photos from Katrina Henderson, North Coast Redwoods District
Folsom Lake State Recreation Area
Morning yoga with the turkey vultures at Granite Bay Park.
Photo from Alena Hansen, Gold Fields District
Angel Island State Park
At 11 a.m. on Wednesday, September 9, the sky was orange from wildfire smoke high above the marine layer as seen from Angel Island in the San Francisco Bay. 
Photo from Casey Dexter-Lee, Bay Area District
Angel Island State Park
Left: At 11:45 a.m. on Wednesday, September 9, the sun is just starting to break through the marine layer as seen from Ayala Cove on Angel Island. Top right: Lights on in the park headquarters are visible across the boat docks in Ayala Cove at 11:30 a.m. Bottom right: The original bell from the historic U.S. Immigration Station on Angel Island is pictured in silhouette late in the morning. 
Photos from Erin Dunning and Casey Dexter-Lee, Bay Area District
Henry W. Coe State Park
View of smoke column.
Photo from Wes Gray, Diablo Range District
Henry W. Coe State Park
Willow Ridge Area of the park. Chaparral vegetation burned in a mosaic pattern.
Photo from Wes Gray, Diablo Range District
Folsom Lake State Recreation Area
Lonely swing by the beach at Granite Bay Park.
Photo from Alena Hansen, Gold Fields District
Tolowa Dunes State Park
California aster above Point St. George. 
Photo from Katrina Henderson, North Coast Redwoods District
The "Weekly Digest" includes a collection of news articles related to the
California Department of Parks and Recreation. The views expressed and opinions do not always reflect that of the department.
California bill allows inmate firefighters to become professional emergency responders upon release: "Inmates who have stood on the frontlines, battling historic fires should not be denied the right to later become a professional firefighter," said Gov. Newsom. CBS 8, 9-11-20
Big Basin: How California’s oldest state park might rebuild after devastating fire: Park will be closed for at least a year, how buildings will look remains a question. The Mercury News, 9-11-20; Santa Cruz Sentinel, 9-12-20
Bear Fire: Looking at Lake Oroville: The Lake Oroville State Recreation Area is being hit hard by the Bear Fire, also known as the North Complex West Zone. Here is what we know. Lorraine Dechter, Action News Now, 9-12-20
Park It: Tarantulas’ longing for love goes on despite COVID-19: East Bay arachnids’ mating season shan’t be stopped by mere global pandemic. Ned MacKay, East Bay Times, 9-13-20
Burning of California redwoods impacts everything from environment to economy: Thick gray clouds of smoke cover the California sky as massive redwood trees, some of the oldest trees on earth, burn at California’s oldest state park: Big Basin Redwoods State Park. Kai Beech, The Denver Channel, 9-14-20
MASH set hike at Malibu Creek State Park: From 1972 to 1983 the TV show M*A*S*H, following in the footsteps of its 1970 film predecessor, filmed its outdoor scenes in an area now known as Malibu Creek State Park. Geoffrey Morrison, Forbes, 9-14-20
California state parks close as West Coast wildfires continue: According to The Los Angeles Times, the raging wildfires devastating the West Coast have disrupted many state parks in California. Jonny Lupsha, The Great Courses Daily, ABC 23, 9-14-20; Times Travel, 9-15-20
California State Parks reopens some campsites in San Luis Obispo County beginning Saturday, September 19: California State Parks today announced the reopening of some campgrounds at Morro Bay State Park, Hearst San Simeon State Park and Morro Strand State Beach with new COVID-19 guidelines. Public and KEYT, 9-15-20
Fire rings out in Oceanside – for good?: What about Coronado, Carlsbad, Imperial Beach, Del Mar? Ken Leighton, San Diego Reader, 9-15-20
2 more victims identified in North Complex West Zone Fire | Update: Butte County Sheriff Kory Honea identified the two individuals as 61-year-old Mark Delagardie and 64-year-old Kin Lee. ABC 10, 9-16-20
These SLO County campgrounds are reopening after coronavirus closures: Campers will be able to set up their tents and recreational vehicles in a few of San Luis Obispo County’s state and county campgrounds, as long as they observe strictly enforced COVID-19 guidelines. Kathe Tanner, The Tribune and The Atascadero News, 9-16-20
Portions of Lake Oroville remain closed, houseboat owners to have limited access: Portions of Lake Oroville State Recreation Area remain closed to the public due to the Bear Fire. Deb Anderaos, Action News, 9-16-20
While some Big Sur parks reopen, Julia Pfeiffer Burns SP could be closed til 2021: The fiery claws of a wildfire burning through the mountains of California's Big Sur coastline have left behind paths of scorched trees in two state parks. Amy Graff, SF Gate, 9-16-20
California forests closed through Monday at least, Highway 1 shut near Big Sur: California’s 18 national forests will remain closed through at least Monday, according to a U.S. Forest Service statement. Mary Forgione and Christopher Reynolds, LA Times, 9-16-20
Oceano Dunes shooting case dismissed following investigation: The charges against Francisco Orozco stemming from the May 4, 2019 shooting at the Oceano Dunes have been dismissed following additional investigation, forensic testing, and the key witness becoming uncooperative. Genelle Padilla, KEYT, 9-16-20
California Highway Patrol holds a groundbreaking ceremony for the new Big Sur office post: The New Big Sur post will help to improve officer response time to the area. EIN Presswire, 9-17-20
Tahoe Conservancy grants over $500K for forest health, wildfire programs: The California Tahoe Conservancy board awarded $523,500 in grants to support programs and projects that will improve forest health and reduce the threat of wildfire to Lake Tahoe Basin communities, and to accelerate adaptation to climate change. Tahoe Daily Tribune, 9-17-20
Several state parks in Monterey County, Big Sur reopen: California State Parks, Monterey District announced on Sept 15, 2020 that Point Lobos State Natural Reserve, Garrapata State Park/Soberanes Canyon Trail, and Andrew Molera State Park to day use visitors. Josh Copitch, KSBW, 9-17-20
Lake Oroville marinas open up for houseboat owner inspection Friday: The California State Parks, in conjunction with Cal Fire, announced Wednesday the closure of all areas of the Lake Oroville State Recreation Area. Justin Couchot, Chico E-R, 9-17-20 
State parks and campsites in SLO County begin re-opening: California State Parks this week announced the reopening of some campgrounds at Morro Bay State Park, Hearst San Simeon State Park, and Morro Strand State Beach with new COVID-19 guidelines. Paso Robles Daily News, 9-17-20
Click here to submit your articles and photos for the Weekly Digest
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                                                     'Weekly Digest' Article and Photo Submissions
If you have an article or photo you would like to submit for the "Weekly Digest," please send your entries via email to
For an article submission, please include:
  • Author’s name and division/district.
  • All relevant information (e.g., headline, park name, dates, name of event, individuals’ full names and titles, etc.).
Articles should be no longer than 300 words. 
For photos, please include:
  • Photo credit info and captions.
  • Photo release forms should be kept on file for non-employees or volunteers.
Unless otherwise noted, all photos included in the "Weekly Digest" are courtesy of the California Department of Parks and Recreation.
The deadline for "Weekly Digest" submissions is close of business Thursday. For more information, email
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