Program Policies and Handbooks

Read this before downloading documents

Personal use of the documents made available for download on this site is encouraged.  However, no document or any portion thereof may be used for commercial purposes, nor may they be published in any medium or format without prior written permission from the State of California.  All commercial rights to use materials made available on this site are reserved by the State of California unless expressly granted otherwise in writing.  For commercial use, contact the Interpretation and Education Division at (916) 654-2249 or

Updated Interpretation and Education Chapter, Department Operations Manual (DOM) (2010)

The updated DOM Interpretation and Education chapter (DOM Chapter 0900) gives policy and guidance on a broad range of interpretation-related topics, including programs, facilities, interpretive concessions, planning, training, evaluation, and working with volunteers and cooperating associations.

Example Livestock Management Plan
In response to questions about the livestock management plan required by DOM 0904.8, the Interpretation and Education Division developed a Hypothetical Livestock Management Plan (Word, 56KB). This example plan may be used as a template. It shows how one might address the needs for proper care and housing of animals, along with resource protection, visitor safety, and good community relations. It is not meant to cover every possibility for every type of animal. Other animals have other special requirements that must be researched and addressed in a livestock management plan.

Creations of the Mind: California State Parks Intellectual Property Handbook

This Intellectual Property Handbook provides background information, policy direction, and general advice and guidance to State Parks staff and partners on intellectual property and the legal issues surrounding its use and licensing.

Junior Ranger Program Handbook (1993, rev. 2007)

Everything you need to know about planning and facilitating a Junior Ranger program in your park is in this handbook. The handbook also contains a wealth of carefully researched and reviewed background information on a host of topics, and this information may be useful in preparing any interpretive program, whether it is intended for Junior Rangers or not.

See also:
Junior Ranger Adventure Guide
This self-guided activity booklet, available in both English and Spanish, is designed to be used when no formal Junior Ranger program is available in a park. The guide is available to the public on the State Parks Kids website.

Volunteers in Parks Program Guidelines and Camp and Park Host Handbook

The Volunteers in Parks Program (VIPP) provides an organized, efficient, cost-effective, and legally-based approach to managing a wide range of volunteer programs in California's state parks. These manuals are designed to assist California State Parks staff in managing volunteer programs and provide valuable information for other agencies that use the services of volunteers.

VIPP Guidelines (2012) 

Camp and Park Host Handbook (2012)

Appendices for VIPP Guidelines and Host Handbook

Volunteer Standards of Conduct

Donor and Sponsorship Recognition Guidelines (2007)

Within certain parameters, California State Parks recognizes donors and sponsors for their contributions. This document provides guidelines and policies regarding this issue.

Parks Accessibility Guidelines (2009, rev. 2015) and Transition Plan (2001, rev. 2003)

One of the goals of California State Parks is to make sure that everyone, including visitors with disabilities, has access to the natural and cultural wonders that make up our parks. State Parks is continuing to work to make our parks more accessible. The Accessibility Program provides the policies we need to follow in developing interpretive programs and facilities.

See also:
All Visitors Welcome: Accessibility in State Park Interpretive Programs and Facilities (1994, rev. 2011)

Cooperating Association Program Manual (1992)

Cooperating associations are non-profit charitable organizations dedicated to enhancing the educational and interpretive services offered in California's state parks. This manual provides policy and direction on working with cooperating associations in the funding and delivery of interpretive services in our parks.

Children in Nature Campaign

The mission of the Children in Nature campaign is to energize, educate and engage public, private and nonprofit entities to increase the number and variety of opportunities for California children to experience and benefit from interacting with the natural world. The website created for this initiative has links to a variety of useful information, including an event calendar, "Exploring Your Neighborhood" activity guides, information on the Children's Outdoor Bill of Rights, and links to research and other resources.

Fort Ross Interpretive Special Event Training Handbook

This handbook was put together for the spring 2012 Interpretive Special Event Training held at Fort Ross. The handbook is a good model for information to provide to one-day special event volunteers. Some of the information can be used for special events at any park.

Summer Learning Program

Youth from disadvantaged backgrounds often fall behind their school peers during the summer months because they do not have access to the same activities and experiences outside of the school year.

California State Parks is proud to partner with the Summer Matters campaign ( to close student learning and achievement gaps over the summer months and to expand and improve summer learning programs across California.

The California State Parks Summer Learning Program is a good model for other programs that address this gap. The annual reports give information on the groups, locations, activities, successes, and challenges of the year's Summer Learning Program.

2014 Summer Learning Program Report (PDF, 453 KB)