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Friends is working hard to sustain the legacy of our local state parks and beaches. Go to www.ThatsMyPark.org to find out more.
See the Friends Model infographic: http://www.thatsmypark.org/wp-content/uploads/2013/11/Friends-Infographic-9.17.13-8.5-x-11.pdf
Throughout decades of declining funding from the state and increasing visitor attendance, the unique and highly successful Friends Model enables us to provide visitor service staffing and fee collection at park entrance kiosks – while investing 100% of our net proceeds back into our local parks.
The Friends Model significantly extends the reach of State Parks in the areas of education and interpretation, capital improvements, park maintenance and public safety. Friends leverages strong local support from business partners, grants and Friends members to fund programs and projects. Friends‚ Facebook fans and followers on Twitter and Pinterest are an engaged, active community in support of our mission. And proceeds from sales at 5 Friends ParkStores, as well as the ParkStore Online, also support park programs and improvements.
The state legislature has indicated a desire for more entrepreneurial practices and incentive-based strategies at the local level. The Friends Model has been proven over the past 26 years and is consistent with the growing interest in innovative, enterprise-driven models in support of our state parks.
Highlights of what the Friends Model accomplished last year:
-Supported operations at 32 state parks and beaches in Santa Cruz and San Mateo Counties
-Funded all education and interpretive services provided by state employees
-Funded operations to keep Santa Cruz Mission State Historic Park open
-Provided over 100 local jobs at peak season and funded the second largest volunteer program in State Parks
-Funded key projects on behalf of State Parks, such as restoration of the historic Castro Adobe
-Served 8,334 students through the Friends-funded “PORTS” program (Parks Online Resources for Teachers & Students)
The Friends Model is anchored by innovative tools that are unique and were developed during ongoing budget cuts and the Great Recession. Two specific examples include propriety online tools that 1) track and report daily receipts from state park entrance kiosks, and 2) monitor staff scheduling in order to maximize yields and provide excellent customer service. Friends tools move beyond current industry standards that are inefficient, reducing human error associated with manual data entry and math calculations, and taking advantage of the security and convenience benefits of cloud-based computing.
These innovations, an entrepreneurial spirit and a strong sense of collaboration with State Parks have produced many benefits, chief among them a significant increase in transparency and access to data, tighter integration with State Parks, and most importantly, steady revenue growth that supports the delivery of vital services and improvements for local parks and beaches.
Two secret stashes totaling $53 million at the California Department of Parks and Recreation have come to light this week, prompting an investigation by the state’s attorney general, the Friday morning resignation of parks director Ruth Coleman and questions about whether the money might have averted the closure of 70 state parks due to budget cuts.
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