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A blogger’s mission to save state parks

An interview with Lucy D'Mot

by on March 28, 2012


Lucy D’Mot is a clerical worker during the week, but on weekends she is on a mission. D’Mot hits the road in her 1996 Toyota Corolla with her foster dog Roxy in a quest to visit every one of the 70 California state parks on the initial closure list. Then she blogs about it.  

The California state parks funding plight is coming to a head July 1, when state officials plan to close those parks without agreements in place with non-profits, local officials, or the national park service to take over operations.

Before all that happens, this self-described amateur photographer and blogger has taken it upon herself to spotlight places many Californians know little to nothing about. She’s logged well over 5,000 miles and at last count 47 state parks. Her last park was the Benicia State Recreation Area, where she said she saw a coyote, two peregrine falcons and lots of red-winged blackbirds.

More people should visit the state parks, she says.  

Q: Who are you? What is the broader context within which you took on this challenge?

D’Mot: I have a clerical job, data entry.  I live in Pollock Pines, California, which is on Highway 50, east of Placerville.  The environment has always been my bent, politically and socially, and I’ve done a little bit of wildlife rescue locally, worked with local organizations and things like that.  So I haven’t been an activist in a huge way, but it’s always been my leaning. 

I’m an amateur blogger and photographer.  I enjoy them both immensely.  I had not blogged until a couple of years ago. I’ve been doing photography as a hobby off and on over the years.  I’m never happier then when I’m just strolling around the world with a camera. 

Q: How did this all begin?

D’Mot: It was on July 4th.  I was just sitting on my porch in the morning, with my laptop and my coffee as usual.  And I read an article about a fellow named Alden Olmsted.  His father was John Olmsted, who was instrumental in developing a number of the Northern California state parks which are on the closure list.  Alden was going to all the state parks with these five gallon white buckets, hoping people would put a dollar in them. 

And I was reading the article and my gut reaction was, “Wow, I sure would like to give a few dollars to every park.”  But my budget won’t allow that. So I thought, “Hmm… I wonder if I could go visit all seventy of them?”  So, I put my money where my mouth is about how great California is. 

And honestly, I was feeling a little bit patriotic, it being July 4th, having just heard about the Arab Spring. Horrific living conditions in other parts of the world are always in our face, and I felt, “Wow!  How did I get not to live in one of those awful places?”  As a combination of all of that, I spent a couple of days making a list of the parks, and seeing if it was really doable.  And then I just decided to go for it. 

Q: What have you discovered?

D’Mot: The Antelope Valley Indian Museum.  It’s this odd Swiss chalet, but it’s an Indian


Photo by Lucy D’Mot.

museum built by this fellow in the earlier part of the 20th century who was a set designer and also an Indian artifact enthusiast at a time when you could collect the stuff.  And it’s just fascinating.  And beautiful.  And weird.  And it’s in the middle of the desert with Joshua trees around it, and the chalet is built around rocks.  And it’s going to stay open. 

Q: Please tell me the highlights and surprises.

D’Mot:  I find myself getting really wrapped up in wherever I am.  But a few do stand out: One is Castle Crags, north of Redding.  It’s a relatively short, moderately strenuous hike, but the scenery is amazing, like a mini-Yosemite. 

Garapata State Park, south of Carmel was the most beautiful.  I was just down there a few weeks ago.  Everything on the sand dunes and on the cliffs was in full bloom.  It was gorgeous, just gorgeous. 

At Saddleback Butte, which is out in the desert, you get to the top and you expect this gorgeous panoramic view.  And it’s smoggy.  I found myself a little bit bummed about that.  But that’s the reality. 

Q: How has your journey affected you?

D’Mot: I found I really love hiking alone, or with a friend who is not very talkative.  And the birds are always the birds and I love the birds.  I always feel very at ease, and calm and


Candlestick Point, off the 49ers NFL stadium in southeastern San Francisco, is a place “to exercise, fish, and just enjoy the experience of ‘getting away from it all,'” writes D’Mot.

peaceful when I’m at these parks.  And I like learning things.  I read – if it’s a historical park – I read every little thing they’ve got typed up at every little stop.  I can’t describe it really. Especially when I’m walking, I feel like maybe I missed my calling earlier in life, to be a little more out in the outdoors. 

Q: How will you know if you have succeeded?  What kind of change do you wish to bring about? 

D’Mot:  My goals have never been really, strongly political.  If the state really is in crisis then everyone does really have to cut back.  At the same time, not knowing a lot about the inner workings of the state budget, in fact really knowing nothing about that, I do go to some of the parks and think, “And closing this is going to help how?” 

I want to make people aware of what is out there for us now and what we’re losing.  I know that at least a few people have gone to state parks as a result of it, and that’s my biggest thing that I try to encourage people to do.  I’ve been to so many, and there’s only a handful of cars in the parking lot.  We have to show that we really want them, if we want to fight to keep them open.  Go to the parks! 

Read Lucy’s blog.

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Robert Hanna on March 29th, 2012 at 12:00 am

Thanks for everything you’re doing Lucy. Blog on and keep fighting the good fight.

Joan on March 30th, 2012 at 12:00 am

Great job.  Keep on ‘doing what you’re doing’ and maybe, just maybe, someone will take notice and find the funding to keep at least some of these parks open!

Julie on April 4th, 2012 at 12:00 am

It isn’t always smoggy on top of Saddleback Butte. I grew up in Lancaster and worked at both the Antelope Valley Indian Museum and the Poppy Preserve before attending Humboldt State and then working my way through college at Del Norte Coast Redwoods State park (another park that was originally on the closure list). I still work in the Natural Resources field and these places were the foundation for my lifetime of work in conservation. They may only serve a few people, but the remoteness of these parks and the small communities they serve are inspiring. We need these parks so much more than we know. 

Business With India on April 15th, 2012 at 12:00 am

State Parks is: http://www.tpwd.state.tx. State Parks Director, Walt Dabney is: walt.dabney@tpwd.state.tx.us. On the State Parks web site you will find the State Parks Advisory Committee’s Report to the Texas State Parks and Wildlife Commission in the upper right corner of the home page. There is much to read, here.

Center For Spiritual Living on June 8th, 2012 at 12:00 am

The Mission Valley lies at the southern end of Flathead Lake.Lake provides a variety of fun activities across a spectrum of water sports, swimming, fishing.There are also the educational and historical aspects.This is an amazing.

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