The concept of creating the American River Parkway can be traced back as far as the 1920s, but the actual creation of the park took place in the 1950s, 60s and 70s. Impetus came when land speculators begin buying up the relatively inexpensive land along the river for future development.
Conservation-minded visionaries of the time realized a regional treasure was about to be lost. A prized riparian habitat of great beauty and recreational value to the community of Sacramento would soon give way to bulldozers, for sale signs, and limited public access. Armed with passion and facts, these early environmental leaders were able to persuade the City and County of Sacramento to create the parkway.
And for that, we owe the environmentalists and elected officials a deep vote of gratitude. The American River Parkway is an urban asset that few communities throughout the US, or for that matter around the world, can claim.
The battle to maintain the natural resources of the parkway continues. The balance between recreational use and protection of the riparian habitat is a delicate one. Tough financial times and deep budget cuts led local politicians to insist that the parkway pay more of its maintenance costs. And this, unfortunately, has led to a demand for increased recreational use to pick up the tab, which is threatening the natural environment. Birds, plants and animals don’t contribute to the public till, at least not directly. Nor do they vote.
Although free parks benefit everyone, there is nothing wrong with insisting that people who use the park help pay for its maintenance. And it is healthy that volunteers have stepped in to take up the slack created by fewer park staff. Continued government support is needed as well, however.
The City of Sacramento recently voted to spend $250 million dollars to build a basketball stadium downtown. While it isn’t my purpose to oppose the stadium, it does seem to me if local politicians can find money to support what is basically a private venture that will serve some 700 thousand basketball fans per year, they should be able to find funds to support the community’s greatest asset that serves 5 million people per year. And will continue to– far into the future. Don’t you think?
The American River Parkway is used by people of all ages and persuasions. Below is a photo of Peggy with her dad, John Dallen, on the river. When John and his wife Helen reached their mid-80s, their children– Peggy, Jane Hagedorn, and John Jr.– insisted that they come out and live in Sacramento. John Sr. was not happy leaving his nature walks behind in Florida so I started taking him out to the parkway on Wednesday mornings. He absolutely fell in love with it, and I like to believe that the parkway made his last years much happier. The experience reminded me just how valuable the parkway, and other such natural areas around the world , are to the billions of people who live in urban centers.
Three community-based organizations work exclusively to preserve the American River Parkway and deserve public support. These organizations are:
The Save the American River Association (SARA) was founded in the 1960s to advocate for the American River Parkway. Its mission “is to protect and enhance the wildlife habitat, fishery, and recreational resources of the American River Parkway.”
The American River Parkway Foundation (ARPF) “coordinates programs and works with volunteers to foster environmental stewardship, facilitate volunteer opportunities, as well as fund and implement Parkway projects.”
The American River Natural History Association (ARNHA), “supports educational and interpretive activities in the American River Parkway through operating and funding Effie Yeaw Nature Center, a program that introduces thousands of school children each year to the beauty and diversity of the American River Parkway.”
Each spring, the parkway bursts out in bloom. So my photographs this time will feature flowers of the American River Parkway.
Plants don’t have to be flowering to be attractive, as the following photos demonstrate,
28 thoughts on “The American River Parkway: Part 2… Featuring Flowers”
You make such a good point about the stadium vs. the park. But I suppose the stadium generates money. Too bad people’s health and well-being doesn’t equate to dollar signs in many people’s eyes.
It may be a plus for downtown. Certainly the promoters are pushing the concept. As for the rest, Carrie, YES! –Curt
Spring in the parkway must be splendid! Great shots of the plants bursting into life. It’s a great shame about the broom, it does herald spring wherever you see it. Your comparison of the political will to fund a private ball park vs this magnificent public asset is telling.
Confess I love Scotch Broom… It is one persistent plant, however. BTW, loved it even more in Scotland.:) –Curt
I’ve never seen the Dutchman’s pipe – what a wonderful flower. I loved the California poppies when I lived out there, and the photo of the newly-forming grapes is terrific. I like the way you’ve mixed the various life stages of the plants, too.
As for the stadium – let’s just say I’ve grown increasingly cynical about the purported “value” of such things. The public may well benefit from the basketball venue, directly and indirectly. But there’s no question the developers will benefit. They never seem to lose. Unfortunately, in this part of the country, that’s led to strip mall after strip mall taking good land and then standing empty.
Isn’t the Dutchman’s Pipe marvelous, Linda? And some of the vines were loaded with caterpillars.
The stadium issue isn’t a clear cut bargain for Sacramento. If I remember early articles I read, several cities never recovered their investments. But you are right, the developer and team owners always seem to come out ahead. –Curt
Another gift of exploring the American River Parkway was encountering the wildlife along the way: flowers, trees, wildlife…all within an urban area. quite beautiful and calming and exciting and unique and surprising and…..I could go on and on……Peggy
Peggy says it all. We had many a date wandering along the trails. –Curt
It’s nice to see so much life and color during this snowy winter. There’s such a variety and I love the Dutchman’s Pipe – I’ve never seen that before. I agree we need to set aside places like these and continue to protect them from too much civilization. The more things grow and change, the more these places are needed for our mental and physical health.
Also, Sheila for the sake of children. Peggy worked as an elementary school principal and took children out on the parkway. Some of them had never been in a woodland area. –Curt
Amazing photos, Curt. Very nicely included with your story. There always seems to be an audience of local pols for the glitzy. And what could be bigger for Sacramento than the NBA? I think the city planners should take a walk with you and your camera. You be the tour guide.
Thanks Bruce. Yeah, the Kings are big in Sacramento. I don’t have any problems with that, but I find it sad that the politicos don’t have the vision to support the parkway the way it needs to be supported. –Curt
A glorious post, Carl, with fabulous photos and great story, wonderful historical perspective and list of resources that I personally found helpful. Thank you so much.
Thanks Rick. –Curt
That Dutchman’s Pipe is really quite unique, not prettiest but the most unusual. Great job done here.
Thanks GP. And I confess to having a thing for ‘unusual.’ –Curt
A man after my own heart.
The birds and flowers don’t pay taxes and nature walks don’t do much for GDP. They are, however, far more valuable than any baseball stadium. Thanks for taking us along on the stroll. It truly is a wonderful community asset and I hope the good folks there will continue to recognize it as such.
Those are my hopes. And there are many good people in Sacramento who passionately support the park. Thanks for your comment, Bill. –Curt
How informative. That first photo grabbed me: exotic, interesting. I said, “That’s Curt!” Your shots really are exquisite and serve the text beautifully.
Thanks D. Outdoors has always been a true passion for me. –Curt
Curt, a heart warming story on John indeed…and the elderberry wine caper. Lol
Our politicians – if they truly believe in representing their constituents – should also volunteer and do whatever it is (behind closed doors) they do…for free.
And I hadn’t known wild roses existed.
Politicians rolling up their sleeves and volunteering to work on the American River Parkway would indeed be a glorious sight, Koji. –Curt
What a wonderful place..It’s always a battle between preserving wildlife and the C Notes from developers.. makes me crazy..
My fave of these flowers are the Elderberry flowers 🙂
The elderberries do have a stunning appearance Lynne. As for developers, if there is a dollar to be made… I do however, know some very good developers. –Curt
Love the pics, especially the dutchman’s pipe. It’s incredible to think how many amazing wildlife exists!
Thanks. And yes it is amazing. I’m reminded of it every time I go for a stroll in the woods, which means every day. 🙂 Curt