July 24, 2020

Photo of the Week

Ocotillo Wells State Vehicular Recreation Area
Northern desert iguana looking alert.
Photo from Hayley Milner, Ocotillo Wells District
California State Parks Graduates Newest Peace Officers at Virtual Law Enforcement Academy Graduation Ceremony
Story from: Adeline Yee, Communications and Marketing Division
Congratulations to the 41 graduating cadets who will now serve as state park peace officers in the nation’s largest state park system. Note: Rangers and lifeguards were photographed separately; the individual photos were edited together to create this group photo. Photos from Brian Baer, Communications and Marketing Division. 
Nothing about 2020 has been “normal,” so it’s no surprise that California State Parks did not have a normal law enforcement academy graduation this year. For the first time, the department hosted a virtual graduation ceremony without families and a host of staff in attendance. Basic Visitor Services Training (BVST) 43 officially graduated 41 cadets on Saturday, July 18, at Butte Collegethe largest academy class for State Parks yet. This is quite fitting since this class’ motto is “Strength in Numbers.”
BVST43 endured a two-month hold amid the COVID-19 pandemic. After nine long months, the men and women of this class are now officially state park peace officers (rangers and lifeguards). The 33 rangers and eight lifeguards will be stationed throughout the state. 
Academy Training Director Jason Smith opened up the ceremony with a moment of silence for the 156 officers who lost their lives this year. The class then heard from Director of Butte College Don Beasley, who emphasized the need for these graduates to have fun during their career but more importantly, to stay safe.
State Parks Director Lisa Mangat joined the ceremony with a prerecorded message, telling the graduates, “The oath that cadets have taken to serve as state park peace officers and making this career path to the public are honorable. Congratulations to you and to your families who have supported the cadets through this academy and will continue to be there to support them through this amazing career they are embarking on.”  
Salutatorian Matthew Fockler was quite emotional during his speech as he thanked everyone at the academy and the staff for their support, and gave special thanks to his wife, Sierra, who is due to give birth any day now. Class valedictorian Alexander Ramm gave a rousing speech and spoke about what it meant to be part of the State Parks family. He expressed a special appreciation to Antoinette Steiner in Park Operations, who encouraged him during the agility test completed during the application process more than a year before the academy began.
Awards were handed out in the following categories: 
  • Firearms – Alexander Ramm
  • Defensive Tactics – Tristan Rosenberger
  • Physical Training – Tristan Rosenberger
  • Academics – Donald Crouthamel III
  • Emergency Vehicle Operations – Daniel Thomas
  • Park Operations – Spencer York
  • Bob Donohue Memorial Scholarship – Matthew Fockler
  • James Whitehead – Alex Claude
Executive Law Enforcement Chief Brian Ketterer addressed the class in person and discussed the importance of their roles as peace officers and the challenges ahead they will face to make split-second life and death decisions. Chief Ketterer compared this BVST43 class and their motto of “Strength in Numbers” to the miraculous 1980 U.S. Olympic hockey team who won the gold medal despite all odds.  
Cadet, now Ranger Gina Romero, put together a 15-minute video, detailing the nine months of intensive training and camaraderie. The graduates were then presented with a surprise of a touching video of their family members and loved ones, congratulating them on their hard-earned achievement.
Academy Director Smith concluded the ceremony by congratulating the newest class of rangers and lifeguards. He alluded to the old proverb: “The best time to plant a tree was 20 years ago. The next best time is now.” 
Next up for the graduating class: 13 weeks of field training. Congratulations, BVST43! “Strength in Numbers! Oorah!”
Basic Visitor Services Training 43 taking the oath at their virtual graduation ceremony. Top-right photo: State Parks Director Lisa Mangat congratulating the cadets in a prerecorded message presented at the graduation event. Photos from Brian Baer, Communications and Marketing Division. 
Basic Visitor Services Training 43 officially graduated 41 cadets: 33 rangers (green uniform) and eight lifeguards (dark blue uniform). Photos from Brian Baer, Communications and Marketing Division. 
Click here to submit your articles and photos for the Weekly Digest
Senior Learning Network Takes a Virtual Tour of Will Rogers State Historic Park
Story from: Callista Turner, Angeles District
Park docent Larry Nemeck leads a virtual tour of Will Rogers State Historic Park. 
Will Rogers State Historic Park hosted a virtual tour on Thursday, July 9, of the Will Rogers ranch home for 48 seniors. Working closely with the Senior Learning Network, longtime volunteer docent Larry Nemeck and I showcased the ranch home and our beautiful Southern California coastal climate.
The tour started on the outside of the house on the front lawn, with Larry presenting and me, the tech guru/director, behind the camera. Will Rogers converted this area into a golf course to practice for a movie. The beautiful Southern California weather was perfectly showcased—mid-70s with a light coastal breeze.
Everything was operating smoothly until a loud squawk was heard. And then another and another until it turned into a cacophony. A flock of nanday parakeets decided to announce their presence, interrupting the virtual tour. Time for Larry and I to move into the main room of the ranch home.
The rest of the tour ran smoothly. We expertly fielded questions from the virtual visitors. Because the house has been shut down for tours due to the stay-at-home order, it was impossible to hold back our exuberance to present Will Rogers to the world. It was a personal pleasure to work with the Senior Learning Network because many of those folks have a close connection to Will Rogers. Although they are not old enough to remember Will from the 1920s and 30s, many were children sitting in their parents’ laps watching reruns of his movies. It touches my heart to bring seniors long-forgotten memories of a bright childhood moment. Especially with COVID-19 isolating many of that generation, it was wonderful to share Will Rogers and Southern California with them.
After the tour, the Senior Learning Network messaged: “Thanks for the shout-out! There were 48 of us from California, Massachusetts, Illinois, Minnesota, Colorado, the Carolinas (both of them) and other places I can't remember, ha! We loved your vast wealth of knowledge and your passion to share with us. Thank you so much!! Keep up the great work!!”
To those of you living the parks life: Today I got paid in virtual smiles.  
State Parks Dive Team Train and Survey at Crystal Cove State Park’s Marine Protected Area  
Story from: Todd Shanklin, Orange Coast District
Garabaldi males are extremely territorial when guarding their nests and make a thumping sound by grinding their pharyngeal (throat) teeth together. They are a gutsy and gritty fish for their size and will approach intruders much larger than themselves to protect their eggy brood, thumping and charging to shoo away the trespasser (or in this case, photographer). Photo from Nick Milward, Orange Coast District. 
California State Parks Dive Team members combined their Public Safety Dive Training with a habitat survey of Crystal Cove State Marine Conservation Area on Thursday, July 16. Crystal Cove State Park’s Marine Protected Area (MPA) is comprised of 1,150 acres of underwater area and provides undersea explorers the opportunity to experience a rich sample of eastern Pacific marine life.
Led by Dive Team Coordinator Ken Kramer (and taking all necessary COVID-19 precautions), Dive Team members from Orange Coast District made multiple dives working toward new certifications, but the primary mission of the excursion was to locate a lost underwater rockpile with great historical significance. Crystal Cove State Park was granted the lease of the underwater area through the State Lands Commission in 1980, and esteemed marine biologist, Wheeler North, Ph.D., was one of the first scientists to explore this natural reef. He stressed the importance of these submerged reefs, and his studies were instrumental in the granting of the lease and the creation of Crystal Cove State Park’s Marine Conservation Area.
Starting with a known depth, some latitude and longitude coordinates, and a vague description, the team used the bottom sounder and the GPS aboard Surfwatch VII in an attempt to locate the reef. Although unable to find North’s rockpile on this day, team members made the most of the situation and executed additional shallow habitat survey dives and navigation dives. While navigating, team members occasionally looked up from their compasses to photograph some of the local inhabitants of the MPA.
Looking into an underwater cave, dive team members were greeted by a nocturnal California spiny lobster (Panulirus interruptus) spending its day hunkered down in the safety of its den. Further along, divers disturbed a few of the unmistakable (and grumpy) California state fish, the brilliantly orange garibaldi (Hypsypops rubicundus).
Careful inspection of the underwater area might reveal the legally protected and well-camouflaged green abalone (Haliotis fulgens). On this particular dive, besides finding many live abalone, team members also found a number of empty abalone shells on the bottom. These shells were studied to confirm the species: They are identifiable by the number of open siphon holes (green abalone usually have five to seven open holes). All the shells were returned to the ocean floor as Crystal Cove State Park’s MPA also protects shells and rocks. 
The underwater areas found off California’s state parks play an important role in both preserving our state’s precious underwater biological resources and providing opportunities for high-quality recreation. The State Parks Dive Team is proud to play an important role in the continued management and stewardship of these areas.                     
The State Parks Dive Team came across a spiny lobster during their survey. Unlike Atlantic lobster, California spiny lobster have no claws. Photo from Nick Milward, Orange Coast District. 
Left: A crevice kelpfish (Gibbonsia montereyensis) shows us how it gained its name. Top right: The green abalone (Haliotis fulgens) clings to a rock with its foot. It is a marine snail that eats algae, and one can often follow their dining history along the denuded line on the rocks they attach to with their powerful foot. Consistent overfishing led to a shocking decline of this species off the California coast decades ago. Thoughtful management and strict conservation efforts have assisted in the mollusks slow return, and the system of Marine Protected Areas (MPAs) across the state have played a critical role in the continued survival of these species. Bottom right: State Park Peace Officer (Lifeguard) Todd Shanklin inspects an empty abalone shell. Shells and rocks are among the things protected by Crystal Cove State Park’s MPA. The shell was carefully returned to the ocean floor. Photos from Nick Milward, Orange Coast District. 
Marshall Gold Discovery State Historic Park to Participate in America’s Summer Road Trip
Story and photo from: Jerrie Beard, Gold Fields District
Interpreter I Holly Thane films James Marshall (aka Ed Allen) telling the story of the gold discovery in front of the reproduction of Sutter’s Mill at Marshall Gold Discovery SHP. The story of the gold discovery and the Gold Rush will be shared on America’s Summer Roadtrip on Saturday, August 1.
With continued concerns surrounding COVID-19 and the subsequent closure of many museums and parks, the nonprofit educational organization The Pursuit of History will be offering a virtual road trip called America’s Summer Roadtrip on Saturday, August 1, to 12 historic sites across the nation. Marshall Gold Discovery State Historic Park (SHP) will be the final stop.
Several months ago, Interpreter I Holly Thane received an email from The Pursuit of History, asking if the park would be interested in participating in the free livestreamed broadcast. Holly felt this would be a wonderful opportunity to showcase the park and its history to people all over the country and perhaps the world. She submitted an application with a brief description of the historical importance of the park and how that would be interpreted during a live broadcast.  
Shortly thereafter Holly received word that the historic park had been chosen as one of the stops. She and Volunteer Coordinator Jerrie Beard immediately began assembling a cast of docents to help tell the tale of the gold discovery and the Gold Rush from a first-person perspective. James Marshall (aka Ed Allen), the discoverer of gold, was contacted and will be on hand to share his story. In addition, a group of miners will be at the river sharing the secrets of placer mining and a local merchant will explain the economics of supply and demand during the Gold Rush.
The event will be broadcast for 12 hours on Saturday, August 1, starting at 6 a.m. PST and feature a different historic site each hour with behind-the-scenes access to Native American landmarks, Revolutionary War era sites and the homes of famous Americans. All the sites are donating their time and talent to produce the broadcast. Marshall Gold Discovery SHP will be in good company with the following other sites featured:
  • Historic New Bridge Landing
  • The Rebecca Nurse Homestead
  • Faneuil Hall and The Printing Office of Edes & Gill
  • Minute Man National Park
  • National Underground Railroad Freedom Center
  • The Molly Brown House
  • Thomas Edison National Historical Park
  • Wright Brothers National Memorial
  • American Heritage Museum
  • Heart Mountain Interpretive Center
  • Chaco Culture National Historical Park
For more information on the sites and to register to join the road trip, visit https://www.americassummerroadtrip.org. After August 1, the site tours will be posted online and available to stream at any time.
To view current job openings within California State Parks, please visit our jobs webpage at www.LiveTheParksLife.com.
Current job opportunities include:
  • Maintenance Aide (Seasonal) in multiple counties
  • Park Maintenance Supervisor in Sacramento, San Joaquin and Orange Counties
  • Staff Services Manager I in Butte County
Style time! Here are this week's tips to help spread the word about our departmentwide style guidelines:
  • Double space after periods: Don't do it! Use a single space after periods, exclamation marks, question marks, etc., that end a sentence.
  • Seasons: Always lowercase seasons (spring, summer, fall, winter) unless part of a proper name. Examples: My favorite season is summer. The Summer Olympics have been canceled. 
  • Colons: After a colon, uppercase the first word only if it is a proper noun or the start of a complete sentence. Examples: The time is near: The organization will release the data. She brought several items for the picnic: apples, sandwiches and sodas. 
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 weeklydigest@parks.ca.gov
Office of Historic Preservation
These days, it's not often that more than five are in the office. This day, all three supervisors, the deputy state historic preservation officer and I were in and masked up. Thus, the photo. Model what we message! 
Left to right: Tim Brandt, Lucinda Woodward, Jay Correia, Jenan Saunders and me.
Photo from Julianne Polanco, Office of Historic Preservation
Folsom Lake State Recreation Area
Megan Russell from the Division of Boating and Waterways out at Granite Bay last weekend, with Pearl leashed with vest. 
Photo from Debby Krajewski, Director's Office
Providence Mountains State Recreation Area
Are you eagle-eyed enough to know your desert raptors? Swoop on down and be a contestant on episode 2 of "Name That Bird!"
Photo from Andrew Fitzpatrick, Inland Empire District
Ocotillo Wells State Vehicular Recreation Area
Family of kit foxes captured by a wildlife camera.
Photo from Hayley Milner, Ocotillo Wells District
Ocotillo Wells State Vehicular Recreation Area
Colorado desert shovel-nosed snake making its way through the desert.
Photo from Hayley Milner, Ocotillo Wells District
Oceano Dunes State Vehicular Recreation Area
Osprey guarding its catch on Thursday, July 16.
Photo from Paul Phelps, Oceano Dunes District
Onyx Ranch State Vehicular Recreation Area
Three different pollinator species (top: western tiger swallowtail; bottom right: tarantula hawk; bottom left: monarch butterfly) utilizing a patch of narrowleaf milkweed. 
Photo from Tricia Farmer, Great Basin District
Mount San Jacinto State Park
Comet Neowise seen from San Jacinto Peak (10,834 feet) on Wednesday, July 15.
Photo from Ali Barnes, Inland Empire 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.
Summer virtual Junior Ranger programs: Travel around California State Parks virtually this summer, and earn Junior Ranger badges from a variety of parks! Eagle & Times, 7-10-20
Water hyacinth acts like ‘plastic wrap’ on the Delta: Looking at the water hyacinth’s lovely lavender flowers and lush green leaves, it’s easy to see why it was brought here from South America. Brandon Honig, U.S. Fish & Wildlife Service, 7-16-20
Reconstruction of the stairs at Point Dume starting July 2020: The old stairs at Point Dume are being disassembled and reconstructed during the month of July and it is expected to take approximately seven months to complete. Tasnia, Canyon News, 7-17-20
Abandoned drug smuggling boat found washed ashore at Tajiguas Beach: An abandoned drug smuggling boat was found washed ashore at a Santa Barbara County beach Friday morning. Travis Schlepp and Jessica Brest, KEYT, 7-17-20; Santa Barbara News-Press, 7-18-20
Want to go camping? Follow these COVID-19 safety tips: "Keep close to Nature's heart ... and break clear away, once in a while, and climb a mountain or spend a week in the woods. Wash your spirit clean." — Scottish-American natural John MuirForrest Brown, Martinsville Bulletin and NewsMax, 7-17-20; KHTV News and WYFF, 7-19-20
Anderson Marsh Interpretive Association receives grant to repair boardwalk on Cache Creek Nature Trail: Anderson Marsh Interpretive Association has received a grant that will help it purchase materials necessary to repair the boardwalk on the Cache Creek Nature Trail located at Anderson Marsh State Historic Park. Lake County News, 7-18-20
How to take advantage of national parks in California during pandemic: Amid the Summer of COVID-19 and the strangest year ever for national parks, there is a series of hidden portals into Yosemite and other national parks in California that can save your summer vacation. Tom Stienstra, SF Chronicle, 7-18-20
Young white sharks showing up along Ventura County coast: Reports of shark sightings off Ventura have started coming in, but a study says the young whites may be around a lot more than some people think. Cheri Carlson, VC Star, 7-20-20
Family rescued after getting stranded in river near No Hands Bridge: Crews worked quickly to rescue a family of four who got stranded in the Middle Fork of the American River on Monday evening. Ecilio Padilla, CBS Sacramento, 7-21-20
Sweeping federal conservation bill offers billions for parks across the West: One of the biggest conservation bills in decades is expected to sail to victory in Washington, overcoming years of funding stalemates and political gridlock, and promising scores of new parks and upgraded recreation facilities across the West. Kurtis Alexander, SF Chronicle, 7-21-20
City outlines potential solutions to beach traffic, parking woes: Half Moon Bay City Council hosted a study session on Tuesday evening to consider potential options for managing beach access and traffic. Libby Leyden, Half Moon Bay Review, 7-21-20
California State Parks presents its newest peace officers at virtual law enforcement academy graduation ceremony: California State Parks graduated 41 cadets July 18 to 'Live the Parks Life' as rangers and lifeguards in the nation's largest state park system. Public, 7-21-20
Abandoned boats create leaks in harbor budget: 2 dozen to be demolished this year at Pillar PointLibby Leyden, Half Moon Bay Review, 7-21-20
Things to do (virtually) in Santa Cruz: July 22-28: Explore the Dickens Universe, watch a fun fantasy adventure, and find more things to do virtuallyGoodTimes, 7-22-20
State Parks holding COVID-Safe Junior Lifeguard program: Local kids can take part in California State Parks' junior lifeguard program despite the COVID-19 pandemic. Jessica Cejnar, Wild Rivers Outpost, 7-22-20
California State Parks | Calaveras Big Trees State Park – Sequoias! Part 2: Join a California State Parks Interpreter to Calaveras Big Trees State Park to learn more about sequoias in the second part of this home learning program! SCV TV, 7-22-20
North Coast Junior Lifeguard program opens to local youth: The North Coast Junior Lifeguard program is now available for youth in Crescent City. Del Norte Triplicate, 7-23-20
State campgrounds face Covid-19 head on: Over the past few weeks, CVN has received several letters asking what guidelines the Carpinteria State Campgrounds are following to remain open and how these guidelines are being implemented. Debra Herrick, Coastal View, 7-23-20
Motorist, bicyclist collide on Highway 101: A motorist and bicyclist collided on U.S. Highway 101 today, resulting in minor and moderate injuries. Del Norte Triplicate, 7-23-20
LA County parks secures $17 million to launch unprecedented initiative to revitalize playgrounds in high need communities: July is Parks Make Life Better month, which highlights local parks, recreation, trails, open space, and facilities as critical infrastructure for Californians impacted by the COVID-19 pandemic. LA Post and SCV News, 7-23-20
‘Hidden gem’ California river spot overwhelmed by visitors’ vehicles, authorities say: Influxes of tourists have recently flooded a beautiful but tiny slice of the North Fork American River, creating a parking and public safety nightmare near iconic Yankee Jims Bridge, according to Placer County and California State Parks authorities. Michael McGough, Sac Bee, 7-24-20
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If you have an article or photo you would like to submit for the "Weekly Digest," please send your entries via email to WeeklyDigest@parks.ca.gov.
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.
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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 WeeklyDigest@parks.ca.gov.
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