A message from

General Manager | Parks Director Kyla Brown

New year, new opportunities

Happy New Year! The ushering in of 2024 is a good time to re ect on all that we accomplished the past year and what we can look forward to in the year ahead. 2023 was a busy and productive year as we continued to provide quality service to the people of Riverside County. In 2023, we developed our SARB team, expanding from 8 team members to 13, thanks to a combination of grant funding and new contract agreements. The team is making a huge difference already, connecting unsheltered individuals to housing resources and removing waste and vehicles from the Santa Ana River along with our partners. Cleaning the river up is an important step to ensuring this valuable resource is available for recreation and water supply now and into the future. This past year, we also expanded our Planning and Development team to help us design and construct improvements to our regional parks, nature centers, and historic sites. The County Board of Supervisors has generously made RivCoParks a priority by allocating much-needed ARPA funding for everything from water, sewer, and paving improvements to facility “facelifts”, expansions, and reconstructions. It’s exciting to see these projects as they evolve from ideas to reality. Looking ahead, 2024 will kick off with our CAPRA Agency Reaccreditation. This process provides a valuable measure of our quality of operation, management, and service and ensures we meet the national standards of best practice. RivCoParks can be proud of retaining our accreditation for the past 10 years and 2024 will mark the start of another ve years of operational excellence. I look forward to seeing you all in a few short weeks at our All-Staff Conference to share more with you about our future. You each are important to helping us reach our vision of inspiring lifelong connections with RivCo parks, places, and programs.

Here’s to 2024 and beyond!



Page 1

A message from the General Manager

Page 3

Outdoor Equity & District Fleet

Page 4

Safety Update

Page 5

RivCoParks Project Updates

Page 6 PARK TALK Page 7

Natural Resources Management Blog

Employee / Volunteer Highlight

Page 8

Praise Drop

Page 9

Unit Spotlight

Page 10

Volunteer Blog

Page 11

Photo Contest

Page 12 Page 13

Shining Stars

Special Events Spotlight

Outdoor Equity Robert Williams , Bureau Chief

RivCoParks Outdoor Equity Initiative

In 2022, RivCoParks developed the Outdoor Equity Initiative which focused on removing economic barriers to regional parks, nature centers, historic sites and open spaces. This innovative program has become a beacon of inclusivity, working to dismantle nancial hurdles that have historically prevented many families from enjoying the numerous bene ts of parks. By addressing economic disparities head-on, the initiative not only fosters a sense of community well-being but also enhances the overall quality of life for residents. Through strategic partnerships, outreach efforts, and targeted assistance, the Outdoor Equity Initiative is forging a path toward equitable access to recreational spaces, ensuring that all families, regardless of their economic circumstances, can partake in the enriching experiences offered by Riverside County's diverse and beautiful outdoor landscapes. As an important component of the RivCoParks Outdoor Equity Initiative, the introduction of library passes has emerged as a groundbreaking strategy to promote and facilitate increased park engagement among Riverside County residents. Recognizing the pivotal role of economic barriers in restricting access to outdoor spaces, the initiative strategically leverages local libraries to distribute passes that afford youth the opportunity to explore and connect with nature. By forging this symbiotic relationship between libraries and parks, the program not only fosters a sense of community interconnectedness but also encourages our youth to embrace the enriching experiences and educational opportunities that these natural environments provide. Through the distribution of library passes, the initiative is successfully breaking down nancial barriers, ensuring that every child has the chance to enjoy the physical, mental, and social bene ts derived from interacting with the outdoors within Riverside County.

District Fleet Highlight

Amid the challenges brought on by the COVID-19 pandemic, the Park District faced challenges in acquiring new vehicles due to supply chain disruptions and chip shortages. The situation was particularly tough since one-third of the District's eet consisted of vehicles over a decade old, resulting in soaring maintenance costs. Once the supply chain and chip shortages subsided the Park District promptly submitted requests for a much-needed eet. However, anyone familiar with the process of ordering vehicles for a government agency understands that the process is time-consuming. The challenge was intensi ed with many government agencies simultaneously placing orders for trucks, making it just as dif cult to obtain vehicles ordered a year in advance as it was during the shortages. In the interim, the Park District incurred high maintenance costs, prompting the purchase of utility off-road vehicles to enable staff to patrol challenging terrains. However, the breakthrough came when the District received exciting news about an agency backing out of a combined order for trucks. The recent addition to the eet included twelve off-road-capable trucks, comprising F-150s and F-250s. This well-timed acquisition lessened the strain on the District's operations. Trucks have been deployed throughout the District and are getting the job done.


Safety Update




Wins the Safety Race Driving Tips for our HQ Business Parking Lot

Jacquelyn Muller, Public Information Specialist

The Case for Slow Driving

1. Pedestrian Priority:

Our HQ parking lot is a bustling area with employees and visitors walking to and from their vehicles. Driving at a slower pace ensures you have ample time to react to pedestrians, reducing the risk of accidents.

2. Vehicle Visibility:

A slower speed enhances your ability to spot other vehicles, especially in congested areas. It allows for better visibility around corners and minimizes blind spots, decreasing the chances of collisions.

3. Minimizing Distractions:

By driving slowly, you can focus more on the road and your surroundings. Avoid distractions like phone use to ensure your full attention is on the task at hand.

4. Protecting Vehicles:

Slow and cautious driving reduces the risk of accidental collisions, protecting your vehicle and those of your colleagues from unnessecary damgage.

Safety Tips

a. Driving in our parking lot:

Driving safely in campgrounds and parks is also essential to ensure the safety of both pedestrians and other drivers, as well as to preserve the natural environment. Remember, your commitment to safety doesn't end when you park your vehicle. By driving slowly you contribute to a secure environment for everyone.

Obey the speed limit of 5 miles an hour in our parking lots at HQ. Respect any posted speed limits within our parking facility. These limits are set to ensure the safety of everyone using the area. b. Stay Alert and Aware: Be on the lookout for pedestrians, cyclists, and other vehicles. Use mirrors frquently and check blind spots before making any maneuvers. c. Yield to Pedestrians: Always yield the right of way to pedestrians in designated crosswalks. Give them ample time to cross safely. Remember your commitment to safety doesn’t end when you park your vehicle. By driving slowly in our business parking lot, you contribute to a secure enivronment for everyone.

Stay Safe and Drive Responsibly!


RivCoParks PROJECT UPDATES Anthony Miller, Facilities Project Manager I

The American Rescue Plan Act (ARPA) was passed by Congress on March 10, 2021 and signed into law on March 11, 2021. This bill aimed to provide additional relief to address the continued impacts of COVID-19 in communities. The Riverside County Board of Supervisors has allocated funds countywide for each agency & district to address major infrastructure and revitalization projects identi ed as holding key importance for the recovery, long-term growth, and improvement within communities. In all, RivCoParks is currently managing 14 ARPA funded projects totaling over $25,000,000. Two of our original projects were re-evaluated for potential reallocation due to complications beyond our control. RivCoParks Planning, Development, and Interpretation team (PDI) are managing the remainder of the projects and are proud to report the remainder of the projects remain on track. PDI is working hard to coordinate successful design, bidding, and construction phases of the proj ects over the coming years.


PK-ARPA003: Lake Skinner Water Infrastructure Update - Funding: $1.5 Million

PK-ARPA004: Lake Skinner Repaving Project - Funding: $1.8 Million

PK-ARPA005: Rancho Jurupa Park Repaving Project - Funding: $3 Million

PK-ARPA006: OHV Feasibility Study: Phase II - Funding: $500,000

PK-ARPA007: Tourism Recovery Program - Funding: $417, 468

PK-ARPA008: District IV Park Feasibility Study - Funding: $250,000

PK-ARPA009: Santa Ana River Bottom (SARB) Maintenance Building - Funding: $5,000,000

PK-ARPA010: Santa Ana River Tr ts - Funding: $1,000,000

PK-ARPA011: Lake Skinner Boat Launch Repair - Funding: $3,000,000

PK-ARPA012 Santa Rosa Plateau Broadband - Funding: $100,000

PK-ARPA013: Lawler Lodge ADA Improvements - Funding: $1.5 Million

PK-ARPA014: Kabian Park Improvements - Funding: $1.3 Million

PK-ARPA015: Lake Cahuilla Master Plan & Amenity Upgrade - Funding: $5 Million

PK-ARPA016: Hidden Valley Nature Center Improvements - Funding: $1.2 Million


Harford Springs Reserve National Resources Management Blog Joshua Rivera, Park Ranger Supervisor

Harford Springs Reserve, a picturesque 325-acre reserve located southeast of Lake Mathews in the Gavilan Hills, offers a haven for hiking and reconnecting with nature near Riverside and Perris, California. The reserve's namesake, Henry Morey Harford, an early settler of the Perris area, was drawn to southern California's health bene ts, leaving behind his law practice in Omaha to embrace a career as a newspaper editor and real estate agent. His tireless efforts brought new residents to Perris and the Perris Valley. After marrying Margaret Leu in 1915, they settled in Perris, where their daughter Peggy was born in 1920. Following Henry's death in 1955 and Margaret's passing in 1929, Peggy became the sole owner of the Harford land holdings. After a decade of negotia tions, the land was eventually sold to the county in 1970, and it became the Harford Springs Reserve, honoring Henry Harford's legacy. Harford Springs Reserve, known for its beautiful native wild owers and stunning juniper trees, faced a signi cant setback in July 2023 when the Gavilan Fire ravaged the area. The re not only destroyed much of the reserve, but also damaged essential infrastructure. Now, there is a serious concern about invasive plant species spreading due to the increased human activity from visitors such as hikers, equestrians, and vehicles. This threat is particularly heightened because the loss of native plant cover leaves habitats vulnerable. One example of a notable invasive species threat is stinknet, which poses a signi cant risk to our community. To safeguard the recovery of the habitat, RivCoParks is actively working to mitigate the impacts of stinknet and other invasive species. Efforts are aimed at preserving the diverse range of native plants and animals that make Harford Springs Reserve so special. Given the importance of protecting these natural resources and ensuring the full recovery of the ecosystem, Harford Springs Reserve will remain closed to the public until at least Summer 2024. This timeframe is essential to allow native plants to recover and for restoration efforts to take place.



Natural Resources Management

You can learn more about the invasive species threat posed by stinknet in our community by referring to these resources: Cal-IPC Stinknet & Cal-IPC Stinknet Pro le


Jacquelyn Muller

Public Information Specialist




What is your hidden talent? Listening What is your favorite season for outdoor activity? Why? Summertime, I enjoy the water. Who is your favorite singer or band? Favorite song? Hirie: Message in a bottle

Describe your favorite vacation/trip you’ve ever taken. Why was it your favorite? What is your favorite RivCoParks location? Why? Lake Skinner, it’s the only park I’ve explored so far! What is your favorite aspect about working for RivCoParks? Working outside and experiencing the local community. Lake Tahoe, Went to a concert, went hiking and spent the vacation with the greatest love i’ve ever experienced.

What are you passionate about outside of work? Helping Others

What is your favorite food? Shout out to Costco Pizza!! What is your favorite movie? About Time


Praise Drop An opportunity to drop a line of encouragement or thank you. Vicki Armentrout, Area Park Manager Encouragement - plain and simple, all of us regardless of if we want to believe it or not let alone embrace it, want, and need encouragement; we like to hear the words of encouragement. It reinforces the right things - solidifies that doing the right thing, especially in difficult situations, is what matters most. Encouragement lets you know you’re on the right track and helps maintain positive, ethical, and productive work habits. Builds confidence and empowers you to believe you are stronger than you seem and smarter than you think. Think of it, it can be a Monday or any day for that matter as we all have “stuff” going on in our lives that affect us. This could be work stuff, home stuff, financial, health, friends, family, children, grandparents etc., and just one small positive thought or comment can change your day, change your mindset; and that’s it…...“changed mindset”. Research shows that mindsets play a significant role in determining life’s outcomes. By understanding, adapting, and shifting your mindset, you can improve your health, decrease your stress, and become more resilient to life’s changes – because guess what? Changes in life are constant and will forever be – better to embrace the change and find a way to make it work best for you than resist and be full of frustrations, anger, and loss of happiness. Shifting Mindset Mindset can be so negative - some old thinking equals some old results. It can have a serious impact on your overall demeanor and outlook towards everything. It’s natural to feel more pessimistic when things aren’t going so well in our lives. To really change your future, let go of the mindset that life is about fulfilling expectation and embrace the thinking that your life is about

“Just one small positive thought in the morning can change your whole day.”

-Dalai Lama

Mindset Quotes

“Great works are performed, not by strength, but by perseverance.” -Samuel Johnson

“The very best thing you can do for the whole world is to make the most of yourself.”

-Wallace D. Wattles

Mindsets to Sucess

Growth Mindset

No risk, No reward

Embrace your mistakes and move on - learn from them, and then let them go

Curiousity will keep you thirsting for more

Find gratitude and celebrate otherʼs successes

Shun the negative, feed the positive

Be healthy in mind and body

fulfilling dreams - dreams that are deeply meaningful, deeply personal, and deeply fulfilling. But just make sure they’re our dreams, and not someone else’s.

Keep your energy high



SANTA ANA RIVER BOTTOM UNIT Home to an estimated 200 unsheltered individuals, the Santa Ana River Bottom is the largest concentration of encampments in Riverside County. These individuals are exposed to environmental hazards, extreme weather conditions, and vulnerability to victimization. This gives the Santa Ana River Bottom the highest priority for encampment response and mitigation. RivCoParks took the initiative to improve conditions within the Santa Ana River Bottom by creating the SARB (Santa Ana River Bottom) Unit. The SARB Unit is a response to the growing number of unhoused individuals in the Santa Ana River Bottom and the protection of natural resources. The primary objective of the SARB Unit is twofold: to protect the natural resources within Riverside County and to provide essential resources and support to individuals experiencing homelessness. Their strategy encompasses various actions, including removing encampments impacting protected species and polluting the river, removing invasive species, improving water quality, and conducting habitat restoration. The SARB Unit operates in close collaboration with a variety of stakeholders. These include outreach organizations, local law enforcement agencies such as the Housing Workforce Solutions, Path of Life, Riverside Auto-Theft Interdiction Detail (RAID), Riverside County Sheriff, Riverside Police Department, San Bernardino Sheriff, and San Bernardino Code Enforcement. This collaboration aims to connect individuals to services linked to resources but also deter criminal activity within the riverbed and ensure the safety of both unhoused individuals and the environment. Since its inception, the SARB Unit has made substantial progress in achieving its goals. Notable accomplishments include the removal of 68 stolen vehicles, the removal of 31 abandoned vehicles through Junk Slips, the identi cation and plotting of over 525 encampments, and the removal of over 70 cubic yards of trash in the Santa Ana River area.

Oscar Serrato, Natural Resources Manager - S.A.R.B.


Volunteer BLOG


Cleanup Day September 17, 2023







Behind The Scenes – Raul Ramirez – Park Attendant - River bottom cleanup

PHOTO 2023 CONTEST voted by our Executive Committee

Wildlife - Brandy Phillips – Volunteer

Sites – Christy Vander – Volunteer

Scenic- Kimberly Ann Boyer - Volunteer



Each month at least one employee or volunteer will be recognized as a Shining Star for their A.C.T.I.O.N.S. and dedication to the RivCoParks' core values.


Mike Van Daele Park Ranger Supervisor

Shawn Huggard

Paul Lanhardt

Maintenance Supervisor



Park Maintenance Supervisor Freddy Salazar

Anthony Miller

Yesenia Villagomez

Facilities Project Manager



Shawna Allison

Gordon Kraft

Connie Kraft

Park Ranger Supervisor





-Eric Boor

Pictures from Lake Cahuilla Veterans Fishing Derby


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