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Get to Know Parks California Board Member Michael Mantell

Meet Michael Mantell, the newest member of Parks California’s Board of Directors!

While he may be new to our Board of Directors, Michael has been one of our most fervent supporters since day one. Did you know he’s part of the team that incubated the concept of and launched Parks California more than three years ago? The foundational role he played in bringing our organization into existence – and his familiarity with state parks during his time as Undersecretary at California Natural Resources Agency – makes welcoming him as a Board Member feel, well, natural.

5 Things to Know About Michael

  1. Michael is the founder and former president of Resources Legacy Fund, which designed and implemented conservation-focused initiatives that help address urgent environmental and social challenges we face today.
  2. Since the late 1990s, Michael has participated in projects that champion natural resources protection, especially those ensuring equity for and engaging historically underserved communities.
  3. Michael successfully helped lead a 2010 campaign that prevented a rollback of California’s landmark climate change legislation.
  4. In addition to being an ardent advocate for the protection and access to natural resources, Michael is author and co-author of several books and articles, the recipient of several national conservation awards, and serves on the Board of Directors of the Monterey Bay Aquarium and on the Governing Council of The Wilderness Society.
  5. Michael served as General Counsel for the World Wildlife Fund and as Deputy City Attorney in Los Angeles.

Q&A With Michael
We sat down with Michael to ask him a few questions that go beyond his impressive resume and get into why he chose to be involved with Parks California. Here’s what he wanted to share.

  1. What compelled you to get involved with the creation of Parks California?
    1. Before Parks California was conceptualized, and ultimately created, I saw the need for a formal California State Parks partner to help to deliver needed programming, services and projects to communities statewide in order to improve the state park system and public access to these wonderful spaces.
  2. What is your favorite California State Park, and your fondest memory there? 
    1. It’s so hard to choose just one park because it’s such an incredible park system that reflects California landscapes and California attributes!

      That said, there are three state parks I’ve had amazing experiences in and seen incredible stewardship by the State Parks department over the years.  They’ve been profoundly influential on me personally and professionally. These three parks are, in no particular order: Anza-Borrego Desert State Park® , Bodie State Historic Park, and Año Nuevo State Park.
  3. How have the outdoors impacted your life?
    1. I recently responded to the question “what’s your favorite hobby?” with “being outdoors.” It opens my mind, it helps me relax, get more creative and stay healthy. The outdoors has been part of who I am since my college days at UC Berkeley. I think nurturing a connection with outdoors spaces is very important in raising a family – it connects us to personal growth experiences and brings the opportunity to have our kids appreciate and explore the wonders of the outdoors.
  4. What is the one piece of advice you would give someone who wants to build stronger connections with the outdoors?
    1. I want everyone to know that it’s important to make time to form your own relationship with the outdoors and with parks. It doesn’t have to be some remote place, it can be a neighborhood park where you live. You’ll gain a better appreciation for the outdoors and what it does for you, as well as gain a better appreciation of yourself and humanity.