Joseph H. Engbeck, Jr.
CSPRA Honorary California State Park Ranger 2017
Honorary California State Park Ranger Nomination ~ Joseph H. Engbeck, Jr.
Submitted November 21, 2016, by Members Dick Troy, John Mott, and Donna Pozzi.
Approved by unanimous CSPRA Board vote on January 14, 2017.
Joe Engbeck is an environmental activist, historian, and writer of books, pamphlets, and
brochures dealing with the State Park System and Western heritage in general. He resides in
Berkeley, California, with his wife, Sondra.
Joe was a writer, editor, and manager for the California State Park publications program, retiring
in 1995. In the 1960s, before joining the department, he helped organize People for Open Space.
Joe has since served on the boards of Save San Francisco Bay Association, the EBRPD
Regional Parks Association, the California Historical Society, and the Claremont Canyon
Conservancy. He was also cofounder of Western Heritage, a nonprofit organization dedicated to
producing books and films about the West. He is currently a councilor for Save the Redwoods
League. Since retirement he has continued to work on projects related to the protection and
preservation of the California State Park System.
Following are several significant, statewide projects that highlight Joe’s contributions to the State Park System and the park movement over the years:
• While employed at State Parks, Joe was the author of scores of park brochures and mini-
folders designed to help park visitors discover and enjoy the resources of their park
• He wrote State Parks of California, from 1864 to the Present (1980), a seminal work
that describes the birth and growth of the park movement in California and the
subsequent acquisition and development the California State Park System.
• He authored several books and pamphlets related to specific State Parks, including:
Enduring Giants (1973), the story of the Giant Sequoias and the Big Trees of Calaveras
Big Trees State Park; Point Lobos State Reserve, Interpretation of a Primitive Landscape
(1970); and "La Purisima Mission State Historic Park" (1979).
• He was an original member of CSPRA’s Save Bodie! Committee whose diligence and perseverance during the 1990’s helped to preserve the cultural and scenic resources of Bodie SHP
• After his retirement, he wrote By the People, For the People (2002), which describes the
contribution of the Civilian Conservation Corps between 1933 and 1941 in developing the
facilities and infrastructure for the nascent California State Park System. In 1995 he wrote an extended essay, "The Redwoods, the United Nations, and World Peace," for the commemoration of the founding of the United Nations held in Muir Woods, where one meeting of the Peace Conference (originally inspired by FDR) had taken place in 1945.
• He was involved in the production of and served as historian for the award-winning 2012 PBS film California Forever, a two-part film that chronicles the history (Episode 1) and the
challenges (Episode 2) facing the State Park System in the twenty-first century.
• His latest book project is a large-scale work about the history of the movement to protect
the remaining stands of redwoods in California and elsewhere. The book is currently in
production, sponsored by the Save the Redwoods League.
Joe Engbeck's lifetime of work has consistently focused on state parks and
the park movement in California. His enduring message has highlighted the significance of
natural and cultural heritage preservation and the importance of connecting the people with
their parks. Like Frederick Law Olmsted, Joe Engbeck has promoted the idea that parks are not a
luxury; rather, they are essential for the quality of life of our citizens and for the health of our democracy.
Joe's many accomplishments are consistent with the stated objectives and values of the
California State Park Ranger Association, and therefore we humbly submit his name in
nomination for recognition as a CSPRA “Honorary Ranger.”
Joe with Congratulations Letter, Plaque and Ranger Stetson presented by CSPRA President Mike Lynch on Feb 26, 2017
Joe discussing park experinces with Dick Troy
Joe holding Honorary California State Park Ranger award and Stetson - showing inscription detail
Joe with CSPRA members and family at presentation