December 05, 2009

Park Protection Bills Vetoed

The fall 2009 issue of the Parklands magazine, a publication of the California State Parks Foundation, reported that park protection bills SB 679 and SB 372 have been vetoed by Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger. These bills would have put safeguards in place to protect state parks from inappropriate, non-park use development.

Without concern for the wishes of the citizens of California or the damage it will cause to our state parks Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger vetoed Senate Bill 372 (Kehoe) and Senate Bill 679 (Wolk) after both bills passed in the State Senate and Assembly with bipartisan support.

Senate Bill 679 would have required requests to dispose of or change the use of state park land be accompanied by substitute property. Governor Schwarzenegger said “This bill is duplicative of existing statute and significantly reduces the state's ability to effectively manage the State Park system.” He went on to say “In times of fiscal crisis, we must be able to balance the costs and benefits of our park system with the costs and benefits of other important government programs. This proposal would limit our ability to do so.”

Senate Bill 372 would have required legislative approval before major projects can be built in state parks. The bill was designed to mirror the current federal process that requires an act of congress to remove federal park land from the park system. Governor Schwarzenegger said “this proposal is an inappropriate delegation of Executive branch authority over the state park system to the Legislative branch and I cannot support it.”

The California League of Conservation Voters said “the Governor took a big step back from his environmental pledges and turned in the worst performance of his tenure.”

Traci Verardo-Torres, Vice President, Government Affairs for the California State parks Foundation wrote “Given this governor’s actions on state parks, it’s clear that state parks will be on the losing side of his equation.”

Stephen Hill, Sr.

November 12, 2009

Colonel Allensworth SHP Closed to Vehicular Traffic

On November 1, 2009 we reported on the service reductions announced by California State Parks. The reductions are part of Governor Schwarzenegger’s plan to keep the state parks open after a $14.2 million budget cut.

Kathy Weatherman, the Tehachapi District Superintendent has announced the specific service reductions for the state parks within the Tehachapi District.

Effective from November 1, 2009 to June 30, 2010 Colonel Allensworth SHP will be closed to all vehicular traffic Monday – Thursday. The park will be open Friday, Saturday, Sunday and for scheduled special events. Park hours will be reduced from 8am to 5pm to 9am to 5pm.

During this period of reduced service we ask for your help in keeping Colonel Allensworth SHP clean. Please take out your trash and keep the restrooms as clean as possible.

Stephen Hill, Sr.

November 07, 2009

The Allensworth Corporation Rabbit Farm

The November 5, 2009 issue of the Valley Voice reported that a group called The Allensworth Corporation has started a rabbit farm on 58 acres of land that they purchased in the town of Allensworth. The Tulare County Planning Commission has given approval for the corporation to raise 9,600 rabbits at a time. The farm will employ 20 people. The rabbits will be shipped to Turlock, California for processing then sold as gourmet meat.

The Allensworth Corporation includes family members of Nettie Morrison. Morrison has lived in Allensworth for over 30 years. The land was purchased by her son Dennis Hutson, Pastor of Advent United Methodist Church in Las Vegas, and other family members are moving to Allensworth to oversee the operation of the farm.

Stephen Hill, Sr.

November 04, 2009

New Plan to Save State Parks

In the last two years California state parks were on the verge of being closed twice. Budget cuts this year have caused nearly 60 state parks to reduce their hours of operation. Budget cuts have also caused needed maintenance and repairs to be delayed.

To provide a stable source of funding for the state park system the California State Parks Foundation has filed a proposed statewide ballot measure, slated for the November 2010 ballot, which will create the State Parks and Wildlife Conservation Trust Fund Act of 2010. The act will purchase State Park Access Passes by adding an $18 surcharge to the vehicle license fee.

To get this measure on the November 2010 ballot volunteers are needed to gather the required signatures to qualify the initiative for the ballot. After the California State Parks Foundation hosted organizing meetings this fall and in early January signature gathers will be teamed with 1 or 2 other volunteers from their community.

Please help keep Colonel Allensworth State Historic Park and the other state parks open by going to the California State Parks Foundation web site to sign up to be a signature gather or to fill out an endorsement form.

Stephen Hill, Sr.

November 01, 2009

State Park Service Reductions

On September 25th Governor Schwarzenegger announced that no state parks would be closed. But the $14.2 million budget cut would cause services reductions at many of the 278 parks in California.

Last week California State Parks announced the list of service reductions for 278 parks in California. State Park District Superintendents decided on the specific reductions for each park within their respective district. Some of the most common reductions included:

• Reduced days of operation

• Reduced hours of operation

• Closing of restrooms

• Closing portions of campgrounds

• Closing and consolidating park offices

• Closing visitor centers two or more days per week

The service reductions at Colonel Allensworth State Historic Park include reduced days of operation and reduced hours of operation.

Stephen Hill, Sr.

October 31, 2009

Double the Power of Your Gift Today

The California State Parks Foundation (CSPF) Board and the Donner Foundation have issued a special challenge grant to CSPF members. Between now and December 31st your tax-deductible gift will be matched dollar-for-dollar.

Next year’s budget battle will be intimidating but with your continued commitment we can keep the parks open. Please show your support for California State Parks by making a tax-deductible contribution to the CSPF today. Remember, your gift will be DOUBLED, only until Dec 31st.

Stephen Hill, Sr.

October 25, 2009

Pacific West Region Freeman Tilden Award

Yosemite National Park interpretive ranger Shelton Johnson has been selected as the recipient of the 2009 Pacific West Region Freeman Tilden Award. As the Pacific West Region winner he is one of seven regional winners. During the National Association of Interpretation National Workshop in Hartford, Connecticut on November 19th one of the regional winners will be selected to receive the national Freeman Tilden Award. Each year, the national award is given to an individual who has successfully developed or delivered an effective interpretive program.

The award is named after Freeman Tilden (1883-1980) a pioneer in the field of natural and cultural interpretation, who began writing about America's national parks in the 1940s. He wrote four books on visiting, learning, and teaching about national and state parks and other heritage areas.

Johnson was given the regional award for his work with the Ken Burn’s film The National Parks: America’s Best Idea and his original research into the role the Buffalo Soldiers played in Yosemite National Park’s history.

Range Shelton Johnson performed at the Allensworth Centennial Celebration at Colonel Allensworth State Historic Park in October 2008.

Stephen Hill, Sr.

October 24, 2009

Nominated as a California Historical Landmark

Camp Lockett, California is one thirteen nominations for federal and state historic designation. Camp Lockett is the only one of the thirteen to be nominated as a California Historical Landmark. The California State Historical Resources Commission will consider the nominations at a hearing at 9:00 am on Friday, October 30, 2009.

The public can present statements at the hearing or submit comments to:

Milford Wayne Donaldson, FAIA
State Historic Preservation Officer
Office of Historic Preservation
Post Office Box 942896
Sacramento, California 94296-001

You can also call or fax your inquiries to :

The Recording Secretary Twia Willis-Hunter
 Phone: (916) 653-7113
Fax: (916) 653-7718

Nominations and photographs of properties under consideration are available at

Camp Lockett is recognized as the last horse cavalry post in the U.S. Army. It was the home of the all black 10th and 28th (Horse) cavalry regiments. These African American units patrolled the Mexican border, guarded the Morena and Barrett dams that provided essential drinking water for San Diego, and provided security for the San Diego-Arizona Eastern Railroad, which served as the only direct eastwest line connecting San Diego with the rest of the country.

We ask that you send letters and/or make calls of support for the Camp Lockett nomination.

Stephen Hill, Sr.

October 14, 2009

Jestine Hurst and the Allensworth Adventure

The Los Angeles Sentinel reported that Jestine Hurst was honored as Queen for the Day.

Jestine Hurst has been organizing bus trips to the Jubilee Celebration at Colonel Allensworth State Historic Park since the early 1970's. On May 9, 2009 she was honored as Queen for the Day by Brother and Sister Smith of Fremont, California.

Stephen Hill, Sr

Photo by: Jeff Peroera
Taken during the Los Banos Buffalo Soldiers visit to Allensworth.

October 12, 2009

Dedicated to Ted Jackson

The City Project has dedicated a page on their web site and a 78 photo sideshow of Colonel Allensworth State Historic Park on Flickr to Ted Jackson in appreciation of his more than 25 years of service and dedication to the California state parks that serve the children and people of California.

The mission of the City Project is to make California a better place to live, learn, work, and play, with equal justice, democracy, and livability for all.

 Stephen Hill, Sr.

October 03, 2009

Colonel Allensworth 5K Run Walk

A 5K Walk/Run will also take place October 10 at Colonel Allensworth State Historic Park. The certifed walk/run course begins and ends at the park in time to allow participants to take part in the annual Rededication Day activities.

If you can not be at the State Park for the Run Walk you can still support the Colonel Allensworth State Historic Park by registing as a Virtual Runner Walker, donations of $20 or more will receive a T-shirt by mail.

Registration is available online. For more information, contact Project Coordinator Dorothy Benjamin at (916) 346-4767 or (916) 346-4767.

Stephen Hill, Sr.

September 26, 2009

State Parks Will Not Close

In May, Schwarzenegger proposed cutting $70 million in general fund support for the State Parks system and warned that 220 of the 279 parks would close. On Friday, September 25, 2009 the governor’s office announced that they will not close State parks.

Rather than closing parks the administration will delay maintenance and the purchase of vehicles and other equipment. Other costs saving measures are cutting of positions and reducing hours of operation.

Stephen Hill, Sr.

September 25, 2009

Help Needed for Field Trip to October 10th Rededication

Los Banos Buffalo Soldiers  (photo by: Jeff Periera)
The Los Banos Buffalo Soldiers are asking for the public’s help to cover the cost of a student field trip to Colonel Allensworth State Historic Park for the October 10th re-dedication ceremony. The Buffalo Soldiers are working with the Los Banos Unified School District to take 60 students to the re-dedication ceremony. If they cannot raise the $2,000 that is needed to cover the cost of the trip by October 4th they will have to cancel the trip.

Donation amounts start at $25.00 but any amount is welcome. Checks and money orders can be sent to:

Los Banos Buffalo Soldiers 9th & 10th Calvary Association

Attention: Allensworth Field Trip Committee

1350 E. Pacheco Blvd, Ste; B-167

Los Banos, CA 93635

To learn more about the Los Banos Buffalo Soldiers Association visit their web site.  The above photo was taken by Jeff Periera.

Stephen Hill, Sr.

September 20, 2009

The National Parks: America's Best Idea

The PBS film The National Parks: America's Best Idea premieres on Sunday, September 27th. One of the featured interviews is with Shelton Johnson, the only African American Park Ranger at Yosemite National Park. Whose of you who were at the Allensworth Centennial Celebration last year saw him perform his Buffalo Soldier Living History Interpretation.

A preview of “The National Parks” film is located on the PBS web site. You can also see Shelton Johnson in the PBS Untold Stories Project video “Yosemite’s Buffalo Soldiers”.

Stephen Hill, Sr.

September 18, 2009

3rd Annual Colonel Allensworth Century and Fun Ride

The Crankin Time Cycling club is looking for volunteers to help provide water and snacks to cyclists during their 3rd annual Colonel Allensworth Century and Fun ride, on Saturday, October 10, 2009. Volunteers are needed at the starting line, at the four rest stops, and to patrol the bike routes.

To volunteer or register to participate in the ride contact Thomas Ward at 323-810-0141 or visit the Crankin Time  web site.

Stephen Hill, Sr.

September 10, 2009

State Senate Approved SB 679

The state senate voted to approve SB 679, it's now on the way to the Governor's desk.

Stephen Hill, Sr.

September 06, 2009

Bill to protect California State Parks failed

The State Assembly failed to pass Senate Bill 679 by Senator Lois Wolk (D-Linden), a bill sponsored by California State Parks Foundation to protect our state park system and ensure that lands used as state parks cannot be used for non-park purposes without providing substitute lands to make Californians' investment in our state parks whole.

Assemblymember Marty Block, did not cast a vote on the measure when it was before him on the Assembly Floor. When it was taken up, SB 679 fell just two votes shy. (Additionally, there is a second park protection bill, SB 372 (Kehoe) that will be taken up next week and needs his support as well.)

Please take a moment to contact Assemblymember Block and urge him to support SB 679. The Assembly will have another opportunity to take up the bill on Tuesday, September 8, 2009 for a vote only, and his vote will be important to ensure the bill's successful passage.