For the first time in its history, Anza-Borrego Desert State Park was the site of the 2015 CALPA (California League of Park Associations) Conference from April 9-12. More than 100 people from all over California came to the desert to learn more about how they can maximize their partnerships with California State Parks throughout the state. CALPA is an organization dedicated to supporting the Cooperating Associations of California State Parks. Last year CALPA organizations contributed over $13 million to California’s State Parks. Anza-Borrego Foundation gave nearly $1 million in support of Anza-Borrego Desert State Park.
The theme of this year’s conference was ‘Thinking Big: Realizing the Possibilities with California State Parks’ and there’s no better place to think big than in Anza-Borrego! ABF hosted the conference in partnership with Cuyamaca Rancho State Park Interpretive Association, Friends of Ocotillo Wells and Sea and Desert Interpretive Association.
Thinking Big was a timely theme for the group since California State Parks is under a lot of pressure to make major changes and improve its efficiency. The department is looking towards the Cooperating Associations to help usher in that change. At the conference, members of the Transformation Team held an interactive session to hear directly from members of the Cooperating Associations and district parks staff regarding the issues most crucial to making changes in their parks – after all, they know first-hand the challenges facing their parks and can make suggestions for implementing relevant and lasting change.
In addition to meeting directly with members of the Transformation Team, conference attendees had the opportunity to explore the parks in the area. Tours were provided to Shell Reef in Ocotillo Wells, Hawk Canyon and The Slot, Blair Valley in Anza-Borrego, Stonewall Mine in Cuyamaca, and the Colorado Desert District’s working laboratories and the PORTS studio. Attendees also received a special presentation on REI’s response to the changing demographics of traditional parks users from keynote speaker Myrian Solis Coronel. Myrian is a State Park Commissioner appointed by Governor Brown as well as the Multicultural Marketing Manager at REI in Chula Vista.
Banquet at the 2015 CALPA Conference, April 11, 2015
In all the conference was an opportunity to introduce park colleagues to the area and learn from one another. The CALPA conference is a great resource for park supporting organizations because of the networking opportunities with other nonprofits working towards the same goals. ABF has already begun to plan some collaborative events and to share resources amongst our organizations.