FOLFAN PROGRAMS, INITIATIVES AND EVENTS
Friends of Lakes Folsom and Natoma (FOLFAN) is a 501(c)(3) nonprofit and the state park cooperating association for the Folsom Lake State Recreation Area (SRA). Our state park includes Lake Natoma, Folsom Lake, and the American River that connects the two lakes. It includes 100 miles of trails, 100 miles of shoreline, beautiful blue oak woodlands teeming with wildlife, and wonderful opportunities for appreciating and experiencing nature and recreation.
Life Jackets Save Lives
FOLFAN is a longtime sponsor of this “loaner life jackets” program that makes Personal Floatation Devices (PDFs) available at most of the popular swimming beaches in our state park. The life jackets are borrowed for the day and then returned for someone else to use. Using PDFs increases water safety. Although it can’t be proven with statistics, the program saves lives.
Outreach and Education
FOLFAN has a customizable outreach and education exhibit where we can engage with and inform visitors (and prospective visitors) to our state park, including youth, at a variety of community, education and park events. It’s like a visitor center for events.
Adopt the Parkway Program
Our Adopt the Parkway (ATP) Program, co-managed with California State Parks, is a program of volunteer stewards and financial sponsors who all contribute to keeping our state park clean and safe. Volunteer stewards monitor and pick up litter along their adopted mile segment for a minimum of 7 hours per month. Stewards may also choose to be part of larger cleanup events or park beautification projects. Financial sponsors donate $1,200 per year with the funds used to support the program by supplying clean-up tools, supplies and program signage. The donations also help fund clean-up events, trail maintenance and repairs, and other park enhancements.
Bald Eagle Interpretive Program
Our Bald Eagle Interpretive Program, which we do in cooperation with California State Parks and US Bureau of Reclamation, serves to inform and educate park visitors about these wild and protected birds who live (seasonally) in our state park. This includes docents who answer park visitors’ questions, informing them how to safely and respectfully view nesting bald eagles, as well as providing information about the eagles and their behavior and development. Docents provide park visitors with spotting scopes on weekends and holidays so they can see the eagles close-up at a “designated viewing area.” Visitors are also encouraged to use our bald eagle nest cam (available through a FOLFAN YouTube channel) which provides a superior live view of what’s happening in and around the nest.
With more than 100 miles of trails within our state park, we offer a rich guided hike program where park visitors can learn from an expert guide about an area of the park, including its flora and fauna, or its human history. Each month features at least one guided hike in a different area of the park, with a different topic or theme, and a different hike leader. The 2-3 hour hikes are free to FOLFAN members. Non-members are welcome, but a small donation is suggested.
Native Plant Nursery & Interpretive Gardens
This is our newest program in which we are partnering with California State Parks to develop a native plant nursery and interpretive gardens that will serve two purposes: One is public education, including for children, about the importance of native plants and habitats. The other is to grow native plants for eco-restoration and fire resiliency projects in our state park. This exciting program also includes repurposing a former ranger’s cottage that will serve as our headquarters and as a hub for our interpretive and nursery/garden initiatives. We look forward to working with a number of partners on the development and ongoing management of our native plant nursery and interpretive gardens, including the Folsom Rotary Clubs, tribal groups and the Sacramento Valley Chapter of the California Native Plant Society.
Native American Restoration, Art and Interpretation Project
We are working with California State Parks and other partners, including several tribal groups and public agencies, to restore an area of the state park in order to honor its significant Nisenan/Maidu history and culture.
Park Cleanup Events and Beautification Projects
FOLFAN organizes two large park cleanup events each year, as well as dozens of ad hoc cleanup events and park beautification projects. The annual events include our Earth Day Kayak Klean-up event each April in honor of Earth Day. As you might imagine, volunteers come out with their kayaks or paddleboards to clean up trash in our waterways and along our shorelines. The other annual cleanup event is in September when we participate in the Great American River Clean-up by hosting a large event at Black Miners Bar State Park. Other ad hoc cleanup and park beautification projects are scheduled as needed, or when a group of volunteers asks us “what can we do?” We love to see the volunteer spirit alive and well in our state park!
Member Appreciation Event
Each year we host one or more events to celebrate and thank our members and volunteers. This often includes food and drink, music, and a popular annual photo contest with prizes awarded to amateur photographers in several categories such as wildlife, recreation, and landscape (within the state park).
FOLFAN is a dedicated supporter of this annual June event at Black Miners Bar State Park. The event commemorates the freedom (from slavery) for all African Americans. The public is invited to this family event which celebrates and honors African American history and culture at a historic location (Black Miners Bar) where African Americans came in search of gold, freedom and a better life.
A note from our President
FOLFAN (Friends of Lakes Folsom and Natoma) is now in its 14h year as a 501(c)(3) nonprofit organization and as the Cooperating Association for the Folsom Lake State Recreation Area.
So what is a Cooperating Association? Often known as interpretive associations, natural history associations or park conservancies, they are nonprofit organizations dedicated to supporting the interpretive, educational, conservation and recreational programs and services of national parks and many state parks. But each Cooperating Association is a little different. Some focus on building volunteer capacity. Some focus on fundraising or land acquisition. Some focus on interpretation and education. Some manage gift shops, museums or concessions. A few even manage their own parks.
So what does FOLFAN do? Our mission is “enhancing education and recreation opportunities for the public and protecting the wonders and resources of Lakes Folsom and Natoma.” Although our mission statement doesn’t specifically say “Folsom Lake State Recreation Area,” our mission is, in fact, all about supporting our local state park. A 20,000 acre park with well over 2 million annual visitors, 100 miles of shoreline and 100 miles of trails. The park includes Folsom Lake, Lake Natoma, and a portion of the American River Parkway.
I have been FOLFAN’s President and General Manager since 2019. I was not one of the founders of FOLFAN; I came along when FOLFAN was already a few years old. I recall my wife reading an article in the Sacramento Bee newspaper about a new nonprofit organization with a funny name, functioning as the Cooperating Association for the state park that we visited and enjoyed almost every day. As a former park ranger, naturalist, and Folsom resident, I knew FOLFAN would be a good fit for my volunteer interests.