By Matt Nauman
The black-tailed jack rabbit scampered up the hill. This Saturday morning had been quiet until hundreds of volunteers, many wearing PG&E blue T-shirts, descended on the Benicia State Recreation Area in Solano County.
But they did arrive, and they brought enthusiasm and tools to plant more than 200 plants, clear a portion of the Bay Area Ridge Trail and to hack away enough invasive shrubs and trees to fill two huge dumpsters.
And this celebration of Earth Day, which marked the 10th anniversary of PG&E’s support of the California State Parks Foundation, was repeated throughout Northern and Central California. PG&E volunteers included workers, retirees, family members and friends. In all, more than 1,200 PG&E volunteers spread out across California on Saturday, April 16, to help restore and cleanup 18 state parks.
This is PG&E’s single largest volunteer event. As PG&E Vice President Sara Cherry said in welcoming the 150 or so volunteers to Benicia, “Thank you for coming out today and volunteering to help make California a better place.”
PG&E contributed a $225,000 grant to the Foundation, bringing its total donations to more than $1.2 million since the partnership began. PG&E volunteers have given more than 20,000 hours to better the parks that show California at its best. Benicia State Recreation Area offers hiking and biking, grassy hillsides and marsh lands, and postcard-perfect views of the Carquinez Strait.
A real treasure at the park is the 3.5-acre Forrest Deaner Native Botanic Garden, and the volunteers dug holes and gently planted little sprouts that will turn into full-size native species like California poppies and wild ginger.
This year, PG&E volunteers did restoration and cleanup work at the following locations. Click on the links below to see photos and details from each project:
- Eastshore State Park (Alameda County)
- Lake Oroville State Recreation Area (Butte County)
- Mt. Diablo State Park (Contra Costa County)
- Millerton Lake State Recreation Area (Fresno/Madera County)
- Patrick’s Point State Park (Humboldt County)
- Tule Elk State Natural Reserve (Kern County)
- Angel Island State Park (Marin County)
- Samuel P. Taylor State Park (Marin County)
- Auburn State Recreation Area (Placer County)
- Folsom Lake State Recreation Area and Folsom Powerhouse State Historic Park (Sacramento County)
- Candlestick Point State Recreation Area (San Francisco County)
- Caswell Memorial State Park (San Joaquin County)
- Montana de Oro State Park (San Luis Obispo County)
- Half Moon Bay State Beach (San Mateo County)
- San Bruno Mountain State park (San Mateo County)
- Palm State Beach (Santa Cruz County)
- Benicia State Recreation Area (Solano County)
- Sonoma Coast State Park (Sonoma County)
“We are active participants in environmental stewardship and want to support state parks in the communities we serve,” said Peter A. Darbee, chairman, CEO and president of PG&E Corp.
The California State Parks Foundation website offers other opportunities for volunteer work.
“CSPF is proud to recognize PG&E’s 10th year as Earth Day’s statewide presenting sponsor,” said Elizabeth Goldstein, president of the 120,000-member Foundation that works to enhance access, educational and recreational activities at 278 state parks. “We value and thank the thousands of volunteers from PG&E and elsewhere who annually participate in the Earth Day program. Our treasured state parks need this yearly cleanup, especially at a time when environmental improvement and maintenance projects are significantly delayed or eliminated due to continued budget challenges.”