Joan Hamilton

Joan Hamilton is a Bay Area environmental writer and
editor who enjoys hiking, camping, and kayaking in
California state parks. She was formerly chief editor at High Country News, Climbing, and Sierra magazines. She produces mobile audio tours for people who want to learn more about Bay Area nature.

Oasis on Mount Diablo: Perkins Canyon’s Trial By Fire

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The Morgan Fire transformed more than 3,100 acres of meadow, chaparral, and woodland on Mount Diablo’s south and east sides, including Perkins Canyon. “It was a once-in-
a-generation event,” says Seth Adams — the biggest fire on the mountain since 1977.

The General’s mission for California state parks

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Major General Anthony Jackson came out of retirement for one more mission: to turn around California’s state parks department. In a Bay Nature interview, Jackson explains why, “My goal, honest and truly, is not closing any parks.”

Will park groups accept the state’s apology?

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The California parks department is figuring out how to disperse $10 million to groups that kept their local state parks from closing this year. But some parks fans wonder how they’ll get out from the shadow of a parks department in scandal.

First to the finish line: Jack London State Park

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For the past 35 years, Valley of the Moon Natural History Association has been helping greet and educate visitors at the Jack London State Historic Park in Sonoma County.As of May 1, however, it’s taken charge of the whole park: 1,400 acres, 10,000 artifacts, and more than a dozen historic buildings.

Rural Refuge in the Redwoods

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For residents and businesses in the Anderson Valley, 845-acre Hendy Woods State Park has an importance far beyond its size. It’s one of few public open spaces in this mostly rural region, and now residents are doing their best to make a plan to keep the park open.

McGrath’s Army Takes Back the Beach

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McGrath State Beach has plenty of visitors and plenty of revenue. So how did it end up on the closure list? The park’s sewer line was broken, and the state couldn’t afford to fix it. But the local community rallied around the park, raised the money to fix the sewer, and now the park will stay open.

Saving Mono Lake State Reserve

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If any landscape can be called iconic, Mono Lake surely makes the cut. But with no revenue, the state park here faced closure–until John Muir’s great-great-grandson joined with local park supporters to rescue the park. With a new parking fee in place, the park is safe, for now.