The Central Coast State Parks Association (CCSPA), in partnership with the California State Parks in San Luis Obispo County, supports interpretation, education and volunteer efforts while promoting public awareness and stewardship of our natural resources and cultural heritage. Our organization is an independent 501(c)(3) non-profit. We are one of 85 similar cooperating associations across the state who work in partnership with the State Parks.
We envision the development of a robust variety of programs focused on inclusive environmental education and interpretation in collaboration with California State Parks in San Luis Obispo County. By supporting these programs, we aim to foster a community of environmental stewards who understand the importance of our natural resources, how our society and ecosystems are interconnected and the role humans play in their preservation. By expanding audiences and increasing funding, our efforts will result in a stronger engagement within our ethnically diverse community. Together, we will recognize the importance of our connections to our State Parks and open spaces along the Central Coast, “where the land meets the ocean.”
What We Do and Why It Matters
CCSPA’s primary purpose is to raise funds for educational and interpretive programs within our local State Parks. Funding school group field trips to three State Park locations, renovating the historic Spooner Ranch House at Montaña de Oro, and supporting the funds for interpreter-led hikes, walks, and talks throughout San Luis Obispo County State Parks are just some examples of our core programs. Our Virtual Mind Walks lecture series runs year-round and provides bimonthly educational opportunities to keep our minds active even while at home. We keep our SeaLife Stewards volunteers in kayaks and outfitted with necessary equipment, and we support community scientist data collection along our coast.
As the political nature of state programs has evolved over the past few years, so has CCSPA. Today, part of CCSPA’s efforts include advocating for California State Parks throughout California to assure the conservation, recreation, and education legacy of California State Parks remains for generations.
The Central Coast State Parks Association (CCSPA) was originally established as the Natural History Association of San Luis Obispo Coast, Inc. in June 1976. In 1996, it was renamed as the Central Coast Natural History Association, and in 2011 was renamed as the Central Coast State Parks Association.
In its formation, the organization was solely operated by volunteers and supported the Morro Bay Museum of Natural History and Pismo State Beach Visitor’s Center. As State Parks’ budgets fluctuated and assistance from cooperating associations increased, the organization’s reach then spread to all of the San Luis Obispo Coast District and eventually incorporated all of the Oceano Dunes District. Its first Executive Director was hired in the early 1990s, and CCSPA began to build an internal staff. Nature stores and events, however, were still completely volunteer run.
In recent years, CCSPA has had to adapt to a decline in volunteerism by hiring additional staff to help cover our stores and operations. CCSPA is still extremely grateful to have volunteer support in addition to our core staff.