July 13, 2014

Hopes for Resolutions to State Parks’ Long-Term Crises

 

PHOTO BY LYNN HAIGH

Hopes for Resolutions to State Parks’ Long-Term Crises

Topanga State Park Rangers and Peace Officers Andrew Bampton and Danny Duarte (l to r ) learn about native plants in the Park at the Topanga Canyon Docent Fall Training 2011.

In the current issue of California Parklands, Elizabeth Goldstein, President of the California State Parks Foundation, writes that state park supporters have been “challenged and tested by state park crises dating back to January 2008.”

Have we ever! At Topanga State Park, our Topanga Canyon Docent group has worked valiantly to provide volunteer services to Park visitors amidst crises that have been ongoing for at least ten years. Many of you remember 2008’s Save Topanga State Park campaign organized by a group of docents who took action in response to Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger’s January proposal to close 48 state parks. Then, in late 2008, the state issued a freeze on bond-funded projects. Work on the Topanga Improvement Project and the renovations at Trippet Ranch were halted.

Since then, our docent group has reorganized our programs and helped move­ our nature exhibits in and out of the Trippet lodge several times. This Topanga project, begun before 2006, is still ongoing. When finished, the Nature Center at Trippet will have new and refurbished exhibits and the Park will have new interpretive signage.

Hub Junction already has an upgraded restroom and will also have new signs. The Los Leones portion of the project on the Pacific Palisades side of the Park is mostly complete.

Perhaps we are looking at a brighter future for our local State Park. Beginning in September, the Topanga Docents will resume our excellent docent and naturalist training. The Topanga Project, including the Nature Center will, we hope, be completed this year.

PHOTO BY LYNN HAIGH

Hopes for Resolutions to State Parks’ Long-Term Crises

Stephen Bylin is the new Topanga Sector Superintendent, Angeles District, California State Parks.

Topanga State Park has a new Topanga Sector Superintendent, Stephen Bylin, and a new Supervising Ranger, James Valdez. For 13 years Superintendent Bylin worked at Topanga State Park, and then moved to Mojave Sector. Ranger Valdez comes from the state parks sector downtown.

Last year a new Topanga State Park General Plan was approved by the State Park Commission. This plan provides updated guidelines for land-use management, resource stewardship and recreational use, and reflects the strong public interest in not overdeveloping the Park. It also emphasizes restoration of the land, including Topanga Creek and Lagoon, and sets aside specific zones including a Cultural Preserve to protect Native American sites, and Trippet Ranch as a Historic Preserve.

On a statewide level, the legislature has recently established the Parks Forward Commission, which is charged with recommending changes that will ensure a more sustainable future for all our beleaguered state parks. The public will have an opportunity for input to this commission.

­­For more information and how you can get involved with Topanga Canyon Docents and California State Parks: TopangaDocents.org; California State Parks Foundation calparks.org: ParksForward.com.