California Park Term Paper
Due as an electronic submission on Blackboard by 11:59 PM on November 29
Please double space and submit as a .docx (preferred) or .txt file
Worth 20% of your total grade
The goal of this assignment is for you to find out more about part of California that still
remains in a relatively natural state. To do this, you will research the natural history of one of
California’s many amazing parks. Your first step is to choose the four parks that you would most
like to learn more about, and send me an email listing these choices in descending order of
preference (1st park listed is your first choice) by Monday, November 6. I will take the first four
students to respond per park, so to ensure you get your first choice, email me soon. If you have
not emailed me by the deadline I will randomly assign you a park. I’ve listed the parks that I
think will work best at the end of this document. However, if you have a different California
park you wish to research (especially if you have already found sources), feel free to propose it.
Your paper will have three sections of a few paragraphs each: 1) An introduction and
history of the park 2) A description of organisms that occur there, and 3) A description of
current or future conservation concerns. You should not separate these sections out under
different headers; rather the paper should read as one continuous essay. These sections don’t
have to be equal in length—for instance, if you find the history of the park particularly
interesting, you can expand this section. Alternatively, you could spend more time talking about
interesting animals that are found there or a cool study that was done in the park. Regardless of
the components that you decide to emphasize, the follow information is required:
1) Introduction and history. Begin with the park’s location (geographic region, county, nearby
cities) elevation, and size. Describe the types of ecosystems that are found there. What makes
this park unique? Give a history of the land and the park itself. When, why, and by whom was
the park founded? Who manages it now? What human activities occur there?
2) Organisms. Describe at least three organisms (plants or animals) that are found in the park.
These could be iconic species which are a main attraction to the park, rare species that are
found in the park and nowhere else, or just species that you think are interesting. Give the
scientific name of each (remember, the correct format is Genus species). Describe be the area
and ecosystems in the park where each is found. Then give some interesting facts about each
organism. For instance, if it’s an animal, what does it eat and how does it behave? If it’s a plant,
does it have interesting pollinators or only occur in certain soil types?
3) Conservation. Describe at least two conservation issues in the park. These could be concerns
associated with the most common ecosystem type in the park (for instance, invasive annual
grasses in grasslands), or concerns more specific to the park (for overcrowded campsites and
trash accumulation leading to aggressive encounters with wildlife). Why is each a concern?
What measures (if any) are being taken to address them? Are these issues likely to get better or
worse over time? Finally, make sure to include a strong conclusion to your paper by looking
toward the future or summarizing reemphasizing why this park is a unique or special place.
You are required to use 5 references for this paper. One of these sources must be a
book. There are many relevant texts in the CSUB library—most of the books will be on the 4th
floor. Section QH is Natural History. Other possibly relevant sections are QE (geology), QK
(botany), and QL (zoology). The staff can also help your request books that we don’t have. Your
other four sources can be online articles, but make sure they are primary sources. For instance,
Wikipedia is not a primary source—the website gathers information from other places.
However, you can use Wikipedia as a potential launching-off point, as they should cite articles
that you can use. The official website for your parks should provide one valuable reference. You
will be graded on properly citing your references. See the academic integrity primer posted on
blackboard for more information about this.
I also recommend contacting (email or phone) park rangers or park naturalists. This
contact information is also usually found on the park website. Many of these people are
extremely friendly, and will be happy to talk with you about “their” park. They can guide you in
the right direction towards additional references, cool organisms, and important conservation
concerns. You can use these people as a reference (cite as personal communication).
There is no word limit for this assignment, but an approximate target to aim for is 1000-1500
words. Note that this longer than your previous two written assignments, by not substantially
so. However, this assignment is work a much larger portion of your grade. Therefore, it is very
important that you spend time researching and editing this paper to make every word count.
You will be graded on your writing style (grammar, word choice, sentence construction) and the
organization (logical flow, topic sentences, clear paragraphs).
List of Potential Parks:
Anza-Borrego Desert State Park
Carizzo Plain National Monument
Channel Islands National Park
Death Valley National Park
Fort Ord National Monument
Gulf of the Farallones National Marine
Joshua Tree National Park
Kern and Pixley National Wildlife Refuges
Lassen Volcanic National Park
Lava Beds National Monument
Mojave National Preserve
Monterey Bay National Marine Sanctuary
Muir Woods National Monument
Pinnacles National Park
Point Reyes National Seashore
Redwood National Park
Santa Rosa and San Jacinto National
Sequoia and Kings Canyon National Parks
Sonny Bono Salton Sea National Wildlife
Wind Wolves Preserve
Yosemite National Park
California Park Term Paper
California Park Term Paper