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State Parks Week: What to know, where to go around Southern California

Orange County Register logo Orange County Register 6/13/2022 Laylan Connelly, The Orange County Register
Visitors check out the tide pools during a hike at the Crystal Cove State Marine Conservation Area near Corona del Mar in 2021. One June 17, visitors can learn about tidepool animals. The Program starts at noon, meet at the Historic District located at 8471 N. Coast Highway, Laguna Beach. © Paul Bersebach/The Orange County Register/TNS Visitors check out the tide pools during a hike at the Crystal Cove State Marine Conservation Area near Corona del Mar in 2021. One June 17, visitors can learn about tidepool animals. The Program starts at noon, meet at the Historic District located at 8471 N. Coast Highway, Laguna Beach.

The first-ever State Parks Week launches Tuesday, June 14, to spotlight California’s natural protected areas, and it is offering a chance to learn about, and explore, some of the most precious recreational areas across the region.

Intended to become an annual event, the week of community activities planned, which run through Saturday, celebrate the “amazing diversity of California’s State Park System and the people who visit and help protect these iconic places,” organizers said.

Several events in the Southern California region focus on the area’s landscape and cultural and historical significance, with some volunteer opportunities to help keep these areas pristine. Themes at various events include inclusion and access, health and well-being, partnerships and stewardship.

The initiative was modeled after National Parks Week. More than 100 state parks are hosting in-person or virtual events.

“California State Parks is the largest state parks system in the United States, besides National Parks,” said Kevin Pearsall, State Parks superintendent. “It’s pretty dynamic with 279 parks currently, and we’re always looking at creating new parks.”

California’s State Park system was started in the mid-1800s, prior to any organized environmental or cultural preservation movement. Today, it includes more than 340 miles of coastline, 970 miles of lake and river frontage, 15,000 campsites, 5,200 miles of trails, 3,195 historic buildings and more than 11,000 known prehistoric and historic archaeological sites.

Pearsall ticked off some of his favorite sites: The redwoods in Big Sur, Anza-Borrego Desert and Old Town San Diego State Historic Park, Emerald Bay near South Tahoe and the lighthouse at Point Lobos. Then, there’s of course the State Parks beaches in Orange County he helps oversee, which include Bolsa Chica State Beach, Huntington State Beach, Crystal Cove, Doheny State Beach and San Clemente State Beach, the most visited in the entire State Parks network.

“I feel like I learn something new every day,” said Pearsall, who has worked with the State Parks department for 32 years. “There’s the natural beauty, but then there’s the cultural history. There’s just a little bit of everything in the State Parks system.”

These days, about 70 million people visit State Parks each year – possibly even more with the recent surge of increased interest from people wanting to explore the great outdoors following the coronavirus pandemic.

Here’s a few notable events happening in the Southern California region:

June 14: Land Acknowledgement Day

Doheny State Beach: Visitor Center Artifact Talk at 10 a.m., 25300 Dana Point Harbor Drive, Dana Point. There will be a Q&A with an expert with display case artifacts.

San Clemente State Beach: Native American basket weaving class at 1 p.m. in the Historic Cottage, 225 Avenida Calafia. Later that evening, an Acjachemen Storytelling Campfire Program will be held at 7 p.m. at the same location.

Lake Perris State Recreational Area:  Join a discussion around California Native American Day, 10 a.m. to 2 p.m., includes activities, displays and demonstrations at the Regional Indian Museum, 17801 Lake Perris Drive.

June 15: Kids Career Day

Doheny State Beach: Junior Ranger Program at 10 a.m. at the Campfire Center, 25300 Dana Point Harbor Drive, Dana Point.

San Clemente State Beach: State Parks Lifeguard presentation at 10 a.m. at the Picnic Bowl, 225 Avenida Calafia.

Leo Carrillo State Park:  Staff will highlight the park rangers and show kids what it takes to be a protector of natural spaces within the State Parks system. Event includes games and demonstrations at 35000 Pacific Coast Highway, Malibu.

Silverwood Lake: Learn about a career in being a State Parks ranger from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. at the Silverwood Lake SRA Nature Center, 14651 Cedar Circle, Hesperia.

June 16: Health and Wellness Day

Huntington State Beach: Take a Tai Chi class at 7:30 a.m. at 21601 Pacific Coast Highway.

Mount San Jacinto State Park: Hike the Sawmill Flats Trail with park staff from Stone Creek Campground. The hike will be about 4 miles and is considered fairly easy, suitable for families and beginners. At the Stone Creek Campground north of Idyllwild on Highway 243

Crystal Cove State Park: Meet for a health and wellness hike at 9 a.m., learn about local flora and fauna while enjoying the backcountry of Crystal Cove. Meet at the Berns Amphitheater, Lower Moro Day Use Area, 8471 N. Coast Highway, Laguna Beach.

Doheny State Beach: Meet at 10 a.m. for an hour-long walk and talk through the park.

San Clemente State Beach: Take a free yoga class at the Historic Cottage at 6 p.m., led by  Jessica Seabern. Meet at 225 Avenida Calafia.

Los Angeles State Historic Park: Meet for “Therapeutic Thursdays” for an afternoon of health and wellness programming in the naturalized wetland area of Los Angeles State Historic Park. The event will highlight health and wellness related offerings at the park, including Tai Chi and yoga classes, and offer special day-of programs such as forest bathing, a sunset sound bath, and nature-based arts and crafts such as eco printing and clay workshops. The event will end at sunset.

June 17: Stewardship Day

Doheny State Beach: Open house in the Butterfly Garden starting at 10 a.m. at 25300 Dana Point Harbor Drive, Dana Point. Learn about native plant restoration and native pollinator plants

San Clemente State Beach: Make seed balls with native wildflower seeds; starts at 10 a.m. at the junior ranger picnic tables at 225 W. Avenida Calafia, San Clemente

Bolsa Chica State Beach: Learn about  how long trash takes to degrade at Bolsa Chica State Beach. Program starts at 10 a.m. at the beach campground, 17851 Pacific Coast Highway, Huntington Beach. Participate in a short cleanup.

Crystal Cove State Park: Learn about tidepool animals in the Crystal Cove State Park’s Marine Protected Area. Program starts at noon, meet at the Historic District, 8471 N. Coast Highway, Laguna Beach.

June 18: Partnership/Volunteer Day

Bolsa Chica State Beach: Citizen scientist needed for FLOW Program from 9:30 a.m. to 12:30 p.m., meet at the visitor center, 17851 Pacific Coast, Huntington Beach. Help with testing water samples.

Leo Carrillo State Beach:  Trail maintenance of Nicholas Flats and Willow Creek at Leo Carrillo State Park at 8:30 a.m., meet at south beach parking lot, 5000 Pacific Coast Highway, Malibu.

San Onofre State Beach: Trail clean up at 10 a.m. at the San Mateo Campground Campfire Center, 830 Cristianitos Road, San Clemente. The morning will starts with a short daytime campfire program, followed by the trail clean up.

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