Friends and Supporters,

Thank you for your generous and ongoing support of our work enhancing visitor experiences in western National Parks. Given the current situation of declining National Park Service budgets and increasing uncertainty, our efforts have never been more important or impactful.

Parks have to prioritize safety, basic services, and resource protection when funding tightens. It is our goal to ensure that we are prepared to support as many parks as possible this year. Thank you, again, for joining us in this effort.

Jesse Chakrin

Executive Director

Project Updates!

Baseball Field Reconstruction

In August of 2023, a rainstorm caused Shepherd Creek, located north of Manzanar National Historic Site, to breach its banks, resulting in mudflows across the area. No buildings were damaged and recovery efforts began immediately. However, this weather event inevitably slowed progress on restoration of the baseball field. This was further compounded by the flood-fueled invasion of tumbleweed plants across the park!

On volunteer weekends in November 2023 and March 2024, several dozen volunteers cleared the baseball field of weeds and flood deposits (3 acres!). They were able to clear enough to play ball! Construction of the bleachers, backstop, and other field features is slated to begin later this year.

A grant of $34,415 enabled this sixth Fund-sponsored project at Manzanar National Historic Site.

Junior Ranger Booklet Redesign

A sneak peek at the new design for the Junior Ranger booklet at Oregon Caves introduces its guide: Flaps, a Townsend's big-eared bat. The charmingly illustrated Flaps talks young visitors through the activities on each page, designed to deepen their experience of the park. One of the speech bubbles encourages youth to engage with park staff, as well: "If you need help, just ask any of my ranger friends! You can find them around the visitor centers." Currently, rangers are busy getting ready for cave tours starting on April 7. They should soon see many Junior Ranger aspirants and their families, learning more about Oregon Caves and the National Park system through the new booklet.

A grant of $8,320 enabled this third Fund project at Oregon Caves National Monument and Preserve.

Opening Newly Acquired Park Area

Park staff have completed planning, scoping, and design for the installation of two composting vault toilets at Pōhue Bay in Hawai'i Volcanoes. They selected sites that are unobtrusive in the surrounding viewshed and avoid impact to the natural resources of this beautiful new park area. The facilities have been ordered and are set to ship to the island this summer, with installation by the end of 2024. A trail crew and groups of volunteers have been working on stabilizing the historic trail so the area is ready to open for visitors in early 2025.

A grant of $150,620 to the Friends of Hawai'i Volcanoes National Park enabled this second Fund project at the park.

Canoe and Condor Exhibits

Restoration of the Tolowa Dee-ni' canoe at Redwood National and State Parks is well underway. Tribal members picked it up from the outdoor porch of the Hiouchi Visitor Center and moved it to their workshop, allowing it to dry completely before beginning the restoration process. The canoe team has been painstakingly filling the many cracks with new pieces of wood that match the grain lines of the original wood. The next step is designing a mounting system for the canoe in the visitor center and and a sign and video to accompany it.

The condor exhibit is in earlier stages. The park has a new visual information specialist who has developed draft concepts. These will be used to generate conversation and consideration as the Yurok Condor Restoration Program staff meet to decide what the exhibit should communicate.

A grant of $29,800 to the Redwood Parks Conservancy enabled this first Fund project at Redwood National and State Parks.

Conversation with Superintendent Steve Mietz

Redwood National and State Parks

How different is your job as superintendent here because this is a joint State and National Park?

Steve Mietz: I have worked in other partnership parks, but this park is unique. There's nowhere that partnerships are more integrated. Every decision is made in a partnership framework. We work to find the efficiencies to meet visitor needs and to support the ongoing partnership. Partnership is at the core of everything we do at Redwood National and State Parks. For example, we just celebrated the five-year anniversary of establishing the Redwoods Rising Collaborative, a public/private, landscape-level restoration between Save the Redwoods League, California State Parks, and the Yurok Tribe. Together, we are partnering to restore formerly logged forests across the landscape, regardless of ownership. This approach is very different from being a superintendent in a traditional park.

When did your Tribal partnerships start?

SM: Tribal partnerships started here earlier than most other parks and they take a variety of forms. The first Yurok Tribe General Agreement was in 1996. In 2001, we created an annual funding agreement with the Yurok Tribe, which is the biggest Tribe in California, and that helps us move funds to the Tribe to implement projects within the park on their ancestral territory. The park also has agreements with Tribal families to conduct traditional practices in the park. Their dances held in the park are becoming bigger every year, which is wonderful to see.

Tolowa Nation dancers at Redwood National and State Parks

SM (continued): Tribal members are at work in the park in many different ways. They're restoring habitat and rehabilitating old housing. The comments I hear from Tribal members, many of whom work all over the state, is that they really appreciate working here, in their homeland.

With their traditional ecological knowledge, the Tribes are the experts on the landscape-level restoration that is at the core of this park. We're delighted that The Fund for People in Parks is sponsoring the Condor and Canoe Exhibits, one at each end of the park, because these will become tangible focal points for the ongoing process of restoration. The Tolowa Dee-ni' Tribe is working on their people's canoe, the Yurok on signage about reintroduction of the California condor. The Yurok Tribe leads the condor restoration project, managed in partnership with the National Park Service and U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service. These exhibits enable the Tribes to tell their story, with their own words, on their lands, so that visitors better understand the ongoing process of restoration and the Tribes' integral engagement with it.

Have you seen changing patterns of park use since you became superintendent in 2017?

SM: Yes, the increased diversity among park visitors is partly the result of shifting demographics nationally and partly because we're working to reduce barriers and increase accessibility. We're doing outreach locally to undeserved communities and figuring out ways to welcome groups like Latino Outdoors. We also have a noticeable shift to social media users.

Hence your website feature, "Plan like a Park Ranger," which promotes your park app. How much is the app used?

SM: People really need to plan. This park is quite far from centers of population both south to the Bay Area and north. It's long and relatively narrow, with Highway 101 running through it, so the places people want to see may be hours of driving apart. As we point out, your GPS is likely not to work well out here. We launched the app in fall of 2019 and last year had 960,000 users.

Has the recent storm damage to park roads and trails been exceptional?

SM: Last year, we had nine atmospheric rivers, which I think of more as "mini hurricanes" because of the large amount of rain combined with high winds. During last year's storms, fallen trees closed a major road in the park-supplying towns, which has never happened before. The wind mostly knocked down second-growth trees, but some old growth, too. Last summer, we also had the largest wildfire in the history of the park. We were lucky with that fire. It even had some benefits and didn't destroy precious old growth forest. But the pattern of intense storms and increased temperatures creates challenges in managing the park and increases the urgency of restoration, so that we can get out in front of the impacts of climate change.

By Bernadette Powell, Trailblazer editor

Celebrating People in Parks:

Women's History Month

We asked a couple women involved in The Fund for People in Parks' work to share one of their favorite park women's history stories!

  • Mary Dedecker was a local botanist and environmental expert credited with discovering six new plant species in the eastern Sierra Nevada and northern Mojave Desert region, including Death Valley National Park. She is featured in the Women of Change exhibit at the Furnace Creek Visitor Center, funded by The Fund for People in Parks.

-Submitted by Nichole Andler, Chief of Interpretation and Education,

Death Valley National Park

  • Nanette "Nan" Ku'ulei Akau (Cabatbat) is one of the many important women in the history of Haleakalā National Park. She served as the park's leader in stewardship of Native Hawaiian knowledge and traditions, training many who will continue to offer visitors unique experiences. Now retired from the Hawai'i Pacific Parks Association, she performed Hawaiian oli (chanting) at the Summit Visitor Center at sunrise for over 30 years.

-Submitted by Natalie Gates, Superintendent, Haleakalā National Park

  • Minerva Hamilton Hoyt founded the International Deserts Conservation League with the goal of establishing parks to preserve desert landscapes. She was instrumental in the creation of Joshua Tree National Park, Death Valley National Park, and Anza Borrego State Park. There is a trail and a peak named after Minerva in Joshua Tree, as well as a cactus, Mammillaria hamiltonhoytea.

-Submitted by Katie Wallace, Operations Director,

The Fund for People in Parks

  • Learn more about Women's History in our National Parks!
Support parks today!

The Fund for People in Parks is an official philanthropic partner of the National Park Service and a 501(c)(3) fiscally sponsored project of Community Initiatives