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Newsroom Articles (2017)

Unmanned Aircraft Systems Demonstration Day at Prairie City SVRA

Story from: Paul Veisze, Facilities Management Division

The California State Lands Commission, in cooperation with Prairie City State Vehicular Recreation Area managers and the DPR Enterprise GIS Program (eGIS), organized Unmanned Aircraft Systems (UAS) teams from the California Department of Fish and Wildlife and UC Davis on December 13.

Under virtually perfect sky and wind conditions, and with complete area control (Prairie City SVRA is closed to the public on Wednesdays), six UAS demonstration flights were witnessed by over 30 participants from state and local agencies.

Tabletop displays of UAS aircraft and sensors also illustrated diverse applications in agriculture, wildlife research, ecosystem monitoring, and mosquito and vector control.

Not since 2014, when Malibu Creek State Park hosted over 120 participants in a film-industry UAS demo, has there been as strong and positive a response to DPR involvement in these technologies. Look to the DPR eGIS Program for continued support of this important work for our department mission and that of our cooperating agencies. [Weekly Digest – 12/15/17]

Prairie City SVRA Went to the Dogs!

K9 ArminStory from: Peter Ostroskie, Twin Cities District

Working with local Petco stores, Prairie City State Vehicular Recreation Area teamed up to create a new special event for the park, 4 Wheelers for Paws, on December 3. The event centered on the safety aspect with off-highway vehicles and dogs. This included training dogs on how to get into and out of vehicles, recall, and a positive rattlesnake aversion class.

During the event, participants were able to help build their best friends self-esteem by participating in a doggy poker run. The winner received a well-prepared gift basket, provided by Petco. Radio stations KNCI 105.1 and 96.9 the Eagle were both on hand as well to help promote the event on air.

Dogs and owners enjoyed the day at the park won some fantastic prizes. But those weren’t the only winners. Petco made a donation of items and money to the California State Park Canine Foundation, which helps support our officers and their four-legged partners in the field.

About 100 participants and 52 dogs were trained during the event. [Weekly Digest - 12/8/17]

Carnegie SVRA Has a New Electric Charging Station

Story from: Elise McFarland, Twin Cities District

Visitors at Carnegie State Vehicular Recreation Area can now try out the park’s new electric charging station. The station is free to the public, and includes a 110-charging outlet. Cars as well as motorcycles can also use it, and we hope to see electric dirt bikes making good use of it in the future. The station is available during normal park hours, with the key available at the kiosk. [Weekly Digest - 12/8/17]

OHMVR Division Holds Annual Natural Resources Meeting at Grover Beach

Story from: Katie Metraux, OHMVR Division

Environmental scientists and resource managers from state vehicular recreation areas (SVRAs) met in Grover Beach for the annual Off-Highway Motor Vehicle Recreation Division Natural Resources Meeting. The meeting is a great opportunity for resources staff and park managers to collaborate on natural and cultural resource programs and monitoring efforts.

The meeting offers participants an opportunity to compare notes, share their challenges and successes, and discover new ways to improve their monitoring programs. As a result, environmental scientists learn from each other different strategies to reevaluate and redevelop study design and collection methods to achieve their resource management goals and requirements. California State Parks staff and peers from academic institutions and professional organizations like California Polytechnic Institute, the San Diego Natural History Museum, the California Geologic Survey, the Institute for Bird Populations, and the Audubon Society held workshops on wildlife monitoring and improving habitat.

The use of drones to monitor wildlife, soils, and vegetation was another hot topic of discussion. State Parks staff use Geographic Information System (GIS) programs and Global Positioning System (GPS) tools to create three-dimensional maps of the landscape and analyze data in different ways.

The meeting wrapped up with a field trip to the new Oceano Dunes District Visitor Center and Oceano Dunes SVRA where environmental scientists tried their hand at aquatic surveys and learned about the western snowy plover nesting program. At the end of the productive week, everyone left feeling inspired and energized. [Weekly Digest - 11/3/17]

OHMVR Division Annual Natural Resources Meeting Group Photo

Visitor Appreciation Day at Carnegie State Vehicular Recreation Area

Isaiah Garcia enjoys pumpking caring eventStory from: Elise McFarland, Carnegie SVRA

On Saturday and Sunday, October 21 and 22, Carnegie State Vehicular Recreation Area held its 7th Annual Visitor Appreciation Day. Seventeen organizations participated including clubs, vendors, park concessionaire MotoMart and event promoters.
On the first day of the event, visitors got ready for Halloween with pumpkin carving and a haunted night ride. Van Groningen & Sons of Manteca donated pumpkins that were used to decorate the route for the night ride. Superintendent Randy Caldera spoke with riders about the future of the park and Carnegie’s resource management program during the ride.

Visitors on Sunday enjoyed visiting with local clubs and off-highway vehicle vendors, making Carnegie bricks, learning "Tread Lightly!" principles while driving radio controlled cars, watching a hill climb demonstration, exploring a helicopter, and winning prizes in a vendor-sponsored raffle.

The weekend was a great way for Carnegie to say a big thank you to the visitors who make the park a great place to be. [Weekly Digest - 10/27/17]

Congratulations to Mat Fuzie on his Appointment as Deputy Director for the Off-Highway Motor Vehicle Recreation Division

Story from: Communications Office

Director Mangat congratulates Mat FuzieState Parks Director Lisa Mangat congratulates Mat Fuzie, who was sworn in as the Deputy Director for OHMVR on October 18.

Governor Brown has appointed Mat Fuzie to serve as the Deputy Director for the Off-Highway Motor Vehicle Recreation Division (OHMVR). Mat has served as Acting Deputy Director for OHMVR since 2016. Mat has provided steady leadership over the last year as we worked to improve and make permanent our OHV program for California.

As many of you know, Mat has spent over 30 years with California State Parks beginning as a seasonal lifeguard in 1985. In 1991, Mat graduated from Basic Visitor Services Training Class number 11 and became a Life Guard Peace Officer working in Orange Coast District and Russian River District. In 1996, Mat became a State Park Ranger at Millerton Lake State Recreation Area. One year later he accepted a Supervising Ranger position at Lake Perris State Recreation Area. In 2000, Mat promoted to Chief Ranger of the Colorado Desert District where in 2003, he became the District Superintendent. Mat moved north to Monterey where he served as District Superintendent from 2005 until 2016 when he agreed to serve as Acting Deputy Director of the OHMVR Division.

Congratulations Mat on your new position! [Weekly Digest - 10/20/17]

Senate Bill 249 Permanently Reauthorized the OHMVR Program

Story from: Legislation Office

It has been a productive year for California State Parks. In addition to the Transformation effort and the reorganization of our department, Governor Brown has signed a number of bills that will help us further provide access to California's state parks and better serve the public.

One of the bills that recently passed was SB 249 which permanently reauthorized the Off-Highway Motor Vehicle Recreation Program within the department. This bill was a collaborative effort by the author, the department, the off-highway vehicle community, and environmental organizations to achieve a balance between maintaining opportunities for off-highway vehicle recreation and protecting natural and cultural resources. [Weekly Digest - 10/20/17]

Standing Up to the Challenge - The Hungry Valley SVRA Experience

Twelve youth from Los Angeles spent their weekend learning about life and recreating at Hungry Valley State Vehicular Recreation Area (SVRA). They were participating in the National Youth Project Using Mini Bikes (NYPUM) program. NYPUM is a nationwide program that began in Los Angeles in 1969. The program engages youth and promotes development through the exciting and challenging activity of dirt bike riding. NYPUM combines the allure of riding a motorbike with incentives tied to achievement of specific goals in each youth’s success plan.

The six boys and six girls’ participants in the NYPUM program came from the Challengers Boys and Girls Club. Challengers promote optimal social development for at-risk youth ages 6 to 17. The Club provides “constructive and positive alternatives to alienation and juvenile delinquency through comprehensive programs focusing on health and physical education; personal and educational development; parent involvement; cultural enrichment; and various social and recreational activities—all designed to motivate, educate, and elevate the children and teens of South Los Angeles to become productive, caring, and responsible members of society.” [10/3/17]

• Link to Standing Up to the Challenge - The Hungry Valley SVRA Experience video

Prairie City Visitor Appreciation Day 2017

Story from: Peter Ostroskie, Prairie City SVRA

Every year, many of the State Vehicular Recreation Area’s (SVRA) give back to their visitors a single day to say, “Thank you for supporting their OHV Park.” Prairie City SVRA gave the day to visitors this past weekend on October 8. Organized by park staff and many of the local businesses, visitors were able to enjoy a day at the park of riding and testing their skills.

To help the experience of the SVRA, park staff were on hand to provide information about the resources of Prairie City SVRA and to answer questions about the new Oak Hill Trail. Local business like Auburn Extreme Powersports, Metalcloak, and even Fox were at the event talking about new products for people’s safety and for upgrades on vehicles. More than 600 people were able to enjoy their SVRA and 35 people signed up for the park's first Poker Run.

The poker run was new to the Visitor Appreciation day. Participants were able to discover the park by finding four locations that had playing cards while their fifth was given to them when they signed up. All visitors seemed to enjoy the activities and while the wind was a problem, many visitors left with great prizes and even happier memories.

Prairie City SVRA Hosts Day of Fun for United Auburn Indian Community

Story by: Peter Ostroskie, Prairie City SVRA

Members from the United Auburn Indian Community came out to the Prairie City State Vehicular Recreation Area to enjoy a day of riding, food, and fun. The park was very excited for such an opportunity to have a day with the tribe.

Many members brought out their off-highway vehicles such as dirt bikes, ATV’s, and side by sides. Park staff helped out by providing loaner safety gear such as helmets, goggles and gloves to members and kids.

After a great morning of riding, the tribe provided a lunch for members. In the afternoon, State Park Interpreter Peter Ostroskie and Law Enforcement Ranger Dave Harte taught an ATV Safety Institute class to some of the kids.

Others enjoyed a little bit of competition over at All Star Karting track. Big Time Speedway, one of the concessionaires at Prairie City, hosted the tribe in the evening. One of the tribe members rode the opening lap at the 9/11 tribute race. [Weekly Digest - 9/15/17]

State Parks Launches A New Mobile Pilot App in Eight State Parks This Fall

Story from: Jorge Moreno, Communications Office

OutSpecial ImageCalifornia State Parks is launching a new iOS mobile pilot app in eight parks around the state. The OuterSpatial pilot app is available to download on all Apple iOS devices and includes detailed information about the activities you love to do in the eight parks, as well as historic locations, trail maps, events, and amenities, all in one place.

The parks in this pilot app cover a wide range of activities and unique locations, from off-highway motor vehicle recreation areas, to easily-accessible beaches, to more remote mountain sites. The eight parks in the pilot project are:

    •    Bolsa Chica State Beach - Orange Coast District
    •    Huntington State Beach - Orange Coast District
    •    Pismo State Beach
    •    Oceano Dunes State Vehicular Recreation Area
    •    Marshall Gold Discovery State Historic Park
    •    Mount San Jacinto State Park
    •    Mount Tamalpais State Park
    •    Ocotillo Wells State Vehicular Recreation Area

The pilot app provides a way visitors can access the most up-to-date local information to make the most of their park visit. Though the app doesn’t offer reservations, users can find special events, up-to-date official trail and hazard information, and get accurate directions to popular trailheads; and discover some new ones.

The pilot project runs through 2017 and may expand to include additional parks within the state park system in the future. We’ll be monitoring feedback through the end of November, so download OuterSpatial and get outside and help us make a tool that is tailored to your adventures!

For more information on the pilot project and to download the OuterSpatial app directly from the Apple store, visit Send us feedback by November 30. Tag us on Facebook, Twitter or Instagram using #CAStateParks, #InventYourAdventure and #CAStateParksOuterSpatial.

This project is supported in part by the Resources Legacy Fund in service of the Parks Forward Initiative. [Weekly Digest - 09-08-17]

High School Students Discover Prairie City SVRA

Story by: Peter Ostroskie, OHMVR Twin Cities

Many students do not know about the wonderful opportunities that State Parks has to offer until they come through the kiosk. Cristo Rey High School in the Sacramento area is one of the schools who pride themselves on helping students explore future career possibilities. They reach out to local business to help place students in an internship where the goal is to help each student prepare for a future outside the classroom. Prairie City State Vehicular Recreational Area was lucky enough to be a stand in organization for a group of these kids.

A class of 32 freshmen met with State Park Interpreter Peter Ostroskie, Resources Park Aid Mckenzie Boring, and Senior Park Aid Kayla Surritt to help with a special project at Prairie City SVRA. Grabbing rakes, shovels, brooms, and garbage cans, the class lent a hand to clearing out the man-made creek at the Environmental Training Center from debris. During their work time, the class was introduced to the park and some of the animals that call it home. After the work was completed, the students were able to sit in the classroom at the park and find out what a State Park Interpreter does. Cristo Rey High School walked away with a different understanding of the work State Parks staff performs. More importantly, they learned how they could be a part of the future of California. [Weekly Digest - 09-08-17]

Flash Flood at Ocotillo Wells SVRA

Story by: Kent Miller, Ocotillo Wells District

What began as a severe thunderstorm over the Anza-Borrego/Ocotillo Wells boundary, quickly turned into a flash flood late yesterday afternoon, September 7. Because there was little movement, the storm dropped all of its rain on that one area. The flash flood lasted at least four hours and was still going strong at 9:30 last night.

This is actually typical for this time of the year. Every August and September, we get subtropical monsoon moisture from Sonora, Mexico. Flash floods occur when there is a heavy amount of precipitation falling in an area and that water is then channeled through streams or narrow gullies. Flash floods may take minutes or hours to develop. It is possible to experience a flash flood without witnessing any rain.

If you are out camping or hiking and experience flash floods, here are some helpful tips:

  • Watch for weather around you. A wash can flood miles away from where the storm is happening.
  • Stay out of low areas and washes if there are any storms in the area.
  • Immediately seek high ground (get out of the wash) if a flood is coming.
  • In a vehicle, follow the National Weather Service maxim of Turn Around, Don’t Drown – only 6 inches of moving water can sweep a vehicle away. Or wait until the water recedes.

To see video of the flash flood, click here. [Weekly Digest - 09-08-17]

Hard to believe this is not the ocean but waves created by the flash flood at Ocotillo Wells SVRA. Photo by Kent Miller, Ocotillo Wells District Photo by Kent Miller, Ocotillo Wells District

New Interpretative Panels Greet Visitors along Rubicon Trail

Story by: Heidi Doyle, Sierra State Parks Foundation

Rubicon Trail Interpretation Panel photoVisitors along the Rubicon Trail, which runs through D.L. Bliss and Emerald Bay state parks, will now be greeted by 11 new interpretative panels. The panels were designed under the leadership of Sierra District Interpretive Specialist (ret.) Bill Lindeman by Wildways Illustrated. This $65,000 project was financed by the Sierra State Parks Foundation and took four years to complete.

One interesting story is that the entire shipment was destroyed on the way to Tahoe from the factory in a semi truck rollover/fire. The panels had to be remade which delayed their arrival.

The Sierra District trails crew completed the installation this past week along the 10-mile trail. Visitors now will have the plethora of information they need to experience what some say, is the most beautiful trail in California.

The interpretive panels include park regulations, natural and cultural history information and orientation maps. The Sierra State Parks Foundation is now working with State Park Archaeologist in the creation of five underwater interpretive panels showcasing the sunken barges of Emerald Bay. [2017]

Trying to Beat the Heat at Ocotillo Wells SVRA

By Garratt Aitchison, Ocotillo Wells District Superintendent
As Southern California prepares for one more heat wave, the staff at Ocotillo Wells State Vehicular Recreation Area (SVRA) presses on with operations. Even when it is 120 degrees or more in the Lower Colorado Desert, peace officers still need to patrol, the maintenance staff takes time to catch up on facility upkeep and the resources staff conducts bio-surveys and monitoring.
The Ocotillo Wells SVRA staff is not held back by the heat. They take all precautions: taking breaks often, hydrating often, and getting in the shade or air conditioning. Although it would be nice to completely retreat from the summer heat, operations and mandates do not allow for that.
During the summer months, many tourist still flock to the desert and the peace officers are kept busy. As required by the Habitat Monitoring System, the biologists conduct many different surveys, including the Flat Tailed Horned Lizard surveys. These surveys occur during the warmest months while the reptiles are active.
The winter months are crowded with riders enjoying the cool desert temperatures but the crowds do not allow for in depth maintenance to occur on the facilities, so staff takes care of the upkeep during the "off season." Even our Interpretive staff gets out in the heat and takes opportunities to spread information about the extreme desert heat and safety messaging. On behalf of the entire Ocotillo Wells SVRA staff, we remind everyone to stay safe this summer while enjoying your favorite park. [2017]