Skip to Main Content
Contact Us Search
Parks Title

Interpretive Services Creation and Development

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

Science, Poetry and Parks: A Sourcebook for Interpreters of California's Natural History (2002)

Science, Poetry and Parks is a specialized bibliography--a survey of the literature that describes, explains and celebrates California's rich natural history. Included here are citations for more than 700 selected works, accompanied by notes suggesting why each might be of value or interest to the reader. This volume has been developed primarily as a reference for park interpreters, but teachers, camp leaders, naturalists, and nature-oriented park visitors should be able to make good use of it as well.

Interpretive Providers Database

This incredibly valuable and useful database contains the names, contact information, and services or commodities of companies that focus on interpretation. The database can be searched in any number of ways, providing for maximum flexibility when looking for vendors that may be contracted for interpretive projects and services. California State Parks does not recommend any particular vendor in the database and suggests that you check references before entering into any business relationship and/or contract.

California State Parks Interpretation Planning Workbook (2013)

This workbook covers Interpretation Master Plans, Interpretation Action Plans, Interpretive Prospectuses, and interpretive project and program plans. It was created to help parks professionals develop practical plans. It provides guidance on research and documentation, the planning process, plan structure, and important elements to consider when developing an interpretive plan.

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

This publication provides State Parks staff with information that can guide them in developing accessible interpretive programs and facilities. It has been designed as a handy reference for planning programs and delivering them to the general public, many of whom have some type of disability.
See also: Parks Accessibility Guidelines (2009)

California in Time

These chronologies have been compiled to help parks professionals better understand the path of California history as it has affected lands that are now part of the California State Park System, and how other American and world events have affected all of California. While not comprehensive (that would be a nearly impossible task), these chronologies highlight numerous significant and consequential events, and put them in a broader context.

California in Time: From the War with Mexico to Statehood (2003) (PDF, 894 KB)

NEW! California in Time: the Fight over Slavery Through the Civil War (2011)
Introduction (PDF, 209 KB)
Timeline (PDF, 3.3 MB)

Five Views: An Ethnic History Site Survey for California (1988)

Organized by ethnic groups, this reference provides an overview of various historical periods and details significant California historic sites associated with California Indians, Japanese Americans, Mexican Americans, African Americans, and Chinese Americans.

Guide to California State Parks Photographic Archives

This reference is an index for the California State Parks Photographic Archives, which consists of more than 200,000 images in the form of slides, negatives and photographic prints. The collections cover a broad range of California subjects, including the history of the California State Park System, California's natural and cultural history, recreation, transportation, mining, geology, architecture, agriculture, plants and animals.

The Baker’s Handbook, or How to Make a Lot of Dough in 19th Century California (1990)

This handbook has been developed to assist individuals interested in re-creating an authentic mid-l9th century bakery in Columbia State Historic Park. The information provided, however, may also be applied to other 19th century bakery operations. This manual contains background information on: Columbia’s development and early bakeries; bakers and customers of the 19th century; bakery ingredients and products; typical bakery interiors and furnishings; the operational practices of early California bakeries; and advertising. Period graphics and written accounts have been included to illustrate or clarify points in the text. Recommendations and further references are also given in the section entitled "Advice to Bakers" at the end of each chapter.

Guide for Creating a Furnishing Plan: Furnishing and Interpreting Historic Structure Museums (1994)

This guide is intended to assist park staff responsible for developing furnishing plans for historic structure museums. This guide speaks to the novice, but also provides useful support materials for those more experienced. Sections I and II define historic structure museums and discusses their appropriate use in interpretation. Sections III and IV describe the process of developing a furnishing plan, and includes some basic guidelines for conducting research. Section V is the outline for writing the furnishing plan, and Section VI discusses some of the follow-up actions required to go from the approved furnishing plan to the finished and furnished historic structure museum. An Annotated Bibliography follows, reviewing several sources that deal with both material culture studies and the development and interpretation of historic structure museums. Finally, a Resources section lists some of the typical sources of information one would use in gathering information for the Furnishing Plan.

Completed Interpretation Master and Action Plans

Interpretation Master Plans and Interpretation Action Plans were defined in the most recent update of the DOM Interpretation and Education chapter.

An Interpretation Master Plan takes a long-range approach to interpretation planning and may be developed for a unit, sector, or geographical region, or may be used for particular resources found throughout the state. It updates and expands upon the General Plan and is intended to help guide park unit staff toward realizing its vision for interpretation. The Master Plan provides greater background and context, while analyzing existing conditions and looking at opportunities and constraints for expanding interpretation and meeting visitor needs. A Master Plan offers recommendations for facilities, media and programs, with objectives and strategies that are in line with the park unit’s goals and guidelines. The Master Plan can be a stand-alone document or combined with an Action Plan. Master Plans may be used to request and attract funding for project-specific development.

It is strongly recommended that an Interpretation Master Plan be prepared prior to developing any new major interpretive facilities or programs, or an amendment to an existing plan should be put in place if such facilities or programs are not addressed in the existing Master Plan.

An Interpretation Action Plan should follow the development of a Master Plan and may be set up as a stand-alone document. The Action Plan is a “roadmap,” offering a realistic and flexible mechanism for achieving the park unit’s interpretive goals, objectives and strategies. Guided by the Action Plan, park staff can methodically approach interpretive development, adapting to the continuing evolution of the park unit while moving toward the realization of the stakeholders’ shared vision.

Following are the Interpretation Master and Action Plans that have been completed and approved to date.

Carpinteria State Beach Interpretation Master Plan and Action Plan (PDF, 20 MB)
Mount San Jacinto State Park Interpretation Master Plan and Action Plan (PDF, 2.5 MB)
Angel Island State Park Interpretation Master Plan and Action Plan (PDF, 8.0 MB)
Los Angeles State Historic Park Interpretive Master Plan (PDF, 2.9 MB)
Old Town San Diego State Historic Park Strategic Plan for Interpretation (PDF, 6.5 MB)
Colonel Allensworth State Historic Park Interpretation Master Plan (PDF, 619 KB)
El Presidio de Santa Barbara State Historic Park Interpretation Master Plan (Link to web page)
Bidwell Mansion SHP Interpretation Master Plan and Action Plan (PDF, 3.7 MB)
Henry W. Coe SP Interpretation Master Plan and Action Plan
Malakoff Diggins SHP Interpretation Master Plan and Action Plan

Sample Interpretive Service Plans

Interpretive Service Plans are plans for interpretive programs, exhibits, and other interpretive projects. These final plans are provided here as examples.

Chino Hills State Park Interpretive Exhibit Plan (PDF, 1.4 MB)
Fort Ross State Historic Park Visitor Center Interpretation Project Plan (PDF, 2.6 MB)
Angel Island State Park US Immigration Station Hospital Interpretation Project Plan (PDF, 4.7 MB)

Park Activities Announcements Templates

Below are activity templates designed for use in state parks to make pertinent park announcements and keep visitors informed about schedules of activities such as Junior Ranger programs, campfire programs, and tours and walks.  Each template is designed with a large blank space in the center, so it can be run through a standard office printer and have information printed onto it. 

Basic Template-Legal Size (8.5" x 14"--be sure to set your printer for legal size by using the "Properties" button on the print screen)
Basic Template-Letter Size (8.5" x 11")

See also:
Guides for Educators
Video Transcripts
Park Panel Program
Informational Brochures, Inserts and Flyers