Why do we do it? For the sheer love of the art? For the money?

Some of the impetus that drives us to continue in our quest for publication is the pride we feel at seeing our work honed to perfection and shared with all the world.

OWAC strives to recognize the superior work created by our membership through the annual OWAC Craft Awards and the 2019 contest is now open submissions. Download and print out the rules and the submissions form and send in your entries for judging.

The final date for entry post mark is February 15, 2019, so start pulling together those published works you feel are worth of praise and award. No matter what your medium might be, you could achieve that highest honor, having your entry selected as work by the 2019 OWAC Writer of the Year.

OWAC-2019-Awards-Entry-form.pdf  /  2019 Craft-Rules.pdf

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2020 Excellence in Craft Awards Winners

Photo: John Poimiroo - Red Lake Creek Cabin (10/8/19)...

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Take an Overland Adventure to These Five Fishing Destinations

Take an Overland Adventure to These Five Fishing Destinations Overland-fishing-jeep The vehicle you use to begin overland fish...

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Local High Schoolers Win Writing Contest

Local High Schoolers Win Writing Contest // May 1, 2020...

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CAWW Photo of the Year 2019

California Watchable Wildlife Photograph of the Year Bald Eagle by Randy Robbins...

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Californian of the Year Candidates Introduced

Californian of the Year Candidates Introduced...

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EIC Winners 2019

Excellence in Craft Award Winners Announced

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June-July 2020 Newsletter

Jun Jul 2020 image header

Carrie Fisher JunJul NLimage

President’s Message June/July Newsletter

Summer is nearly upon us, but this one will be much different from any other we have experienced before. Restrictions are beginning to loosen up though, everyone has cabin fever, parks are reopening, and more people than ever are setting out in search of the solitude and peace one feels while immersed in California’s great outdoors. As a matter of fact, even hunting and fishing license sales are on the rise for the first time in many years across the state!

And while OWAC is not able to hold our usual spring conference this year, we are hoping to announce a unique opportunity for a fall conference this year. As soon as we have confirmation and the agreements are signed, we will be sending out all the details!

On another topic, please visit our OWAC Facebook page. Betsy (Crowfoot) Senescu has been doing a bang-up job of managing it, creating new publicity content and keeping our presence alive and active via social media. Look at this as a good place for posting your published articles, photographs, and especially posts from past OWAC Conferences. We are trying to give our past conference hosts more “bang for their buck,” as well as to help give prospective conference site hosts an idea of the value we will bring to their areas. If you need guidance or have any trouble posting to Facebook, please email This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. and then she can help or post it for you.

And while you’re at it, check out OWAC’s changing website! Thanks to the leadership of Gigi de Jong and her web team, they are making great progress in redesigning the website, starting with moving the site over to a new platform. This will allow for a more robust and comprehensive website using a program that more members are familiar with, and thus that more people can contribute to and add new content as needed. It’s all still a project in motion, but once finished, we will roll out the new site in a lot more detail, showing all of the new bells and whistles available. Stay tuned!

Finally, as we move into our fourth month of this pandemic that never seems to stop, there appears to be is a small, wee, little light beginning to shimmer at the far end of the Covid tunnel. Let’s all keep the faith, stay safe and healthy, get outside as much as possible, and try to help one another as we all work to get through this difficult time together. Better days and new adventures are ahead. 


Carrie Wilson


Outdoor Writers Association of California

This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.

(831) 402-6003

Bob Semerau JunJul NLimage 


From OWAC Executive Director, Bob Semerau

SO much has changed. And in so short a period of time.

We need to embrace the moments and each other, holding on to what is dear to us.

Our jobs as outdoor communicators now have a higher calling, not to put too fine a point on the thing:

We can make a difference by moving people to embrace this beautiful place we call home.

In doing so, we might instill a little sanity, create a bit of beauty, and maybe spark a new spirit of love and peace.

Bob Semerau

Executive Director

Outdoor Writers Association of California

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OWAC Fall Conference News

Exciting News! Long-standing OWAC member, John Poimiroo, has been working with the folks at Lake Comanche, Base Camp ,and Visit Lodi to secure a location for a fall 2020 conference. Poimiroo reports the group has agreed in principal to host our conference and we will be meeting shortly to finalize the details. You will be notified by e-mail of the dates and arrangements as they become clear. Thanks, John!

Travel Ins NLimage


Travel Insurance in the Time of Pandemics

by Judy M. Zimmerman

In April, I was looking forward to a week-long stay at Rancho La Puerta in Tecate, Mexico, about a 90- minute ride from San Diego’s airport. During six previous visits I had realized why “The Ranch” has for so many years earned its reputation as “The World’s Best Health and Fitness Resort.”

But I was undecided about what sort of travel insurance to purchase. That was in January, before Covid-19 arrived. As it turned out, in March, “The Ranch” decided to temporarily close due to the Pandemic and offered either a full refund or later booking.

So, now, I’m eagerly anticipating being there Thanksgiving week. This morning, Tauck Tours also cancelled May’s journey to the... [read and download story here]


Lake Chabot NLimage

“Love the park you’re near”

Blue-green water greets me again as I start my run around Castro Valley’s Lake Chabot. Every time I run the nine-mile lap around it, I try to improve my time from the week before. That requires a good effort on the first segment from the marina to the dam on West Shore Trail, so I run briskly on a perfect spring day.

I’ve been needing and utilizing the outdoors more than usual lately, and I’m not the only one. In the first weeks of COVID-19 social distancing restrictions, record crowds descended upon California’s parks. In fact, visitation exceeded typical numbers for even holiday and summer weekends.

So many people flocked to outdoor areas that national parks and many others have closed. One can’t blame stressed and pent-up masses for seeking open space to relax and exercise, but health experts rightly warn that allowing them to gather in popular destinations would compound the pandemic crisis. 

 Matt Johanson NLimage

Matt Johanson and Yosemite Sam the Samurai Dog,

take a break beside Lake Chabot, their favorite local park. 

Image: Matt Johanson

OWAC Steps Up:

Californian of the Year award given to Lori Gray

Once the voting had been compiled and all the ballots counted, our membership named Ms. Lori Gray, OWAC 2020 Californian of the year.

Ms. Gray received the honor for her work opening the outdoors to disabled individuals over the years. Along with the honor a $300.00 cash award is given has elected to have the $300 award. Ms. Gray has opted to donate her cash award to Access Adventure, spear-headed by past COY recipient, Mr. Michael Muir.

Here's what Lori Gray had to say:

Winning this award will hopefully focus more attention on disability out in the environment and perpetuate a discussion about equal access for people of all ability and reality. As someone who’s been impacted in such a significant and positive way by nature – to get more people talking and giving more information about my situation that the outdoors can be enjoyed by everyone regardless of their disability. I guess not so much what people say it’s what they end up doing. Other people wind up joining in on the trips. People’s horizons have been broadened and there is a way to safely enjoy the parks, open spaces, beaches and all these beautiful places have to offer. The community I work with have come to love and enjoy nature – which is something they were not doing before. Rather than saying things to me, that hopefully us being out there – because the group is so positive – that it makes it a positive experience for everyone, and others are more receptive because they understand the benefit.

Asking why people with disabilities want to go out in Nature. The question is, “Why do you?” I can open the door further and give guidance to the parks or other organization and hopefully that provides a road map for what is supposed to happen to provide equal access.

We’ve been working with Access Adventure for more than 12-years doing carriage rides both at Rush Ranch and camping trips to Point Reyes – the opportunity to go further then we’re able to go on our own due to our limitations because of the trails or wheelchairs. With the modified carriages which have wheelchair lifts and wheels, we were able to see the ocean and hear the waves. People are still talking it. Because of the impact of these carriage rides and partnership it has offered is why I wanted the funds to go to Access Adventure And especially now - during the Corona virus - they, like many nonprofits, are being more challenged. It has been a wonderful partnership. We love working together and look forward to more programs in the future."

[Read the COY award letter here]

 CARB logo


Information about research California Air Resources Board (CARB) is undertaking:

There are many factors, including weather (cooler temps/rain) that determine pollution levels day by day. According to the California Air Resources Board, April is the cleanest time of year for air quality in California. So it’s not unusual to see lower pollution levels at that time of year. Ground-level ozone (smog) is mostly a problem in the May through September timeframe and, as noted in the news, smog has returned to Southern California recently.

Even so, we can see there has been some change as a result of the stay-at-home orders. Vehicle trips and emissions have reduced substantially due to the societal and economic shifts we have been experiencing. The clear skies we have seen provide a glimpse of the impact we humans have on our environment. While any cleaner air attributed to the COVID-19 shutdown won’t last, it may help us design additional strategies to reduce the amount Californians drive. That’s important because transportation is California’s largest source of air pollution and largest source of greenhouse gas emissions.

CARB Research

CARB is at the beginning stages of conducting a health study that would provide a California-specific view of air quality and COVID-19 linkages investigated in the national Harvard study. The Harvard study is preliminary but points to important linkages between long-term exposures to fine particulate or PM 2.5 pollution and increased COVID-19 death rates. We would like to look at this potential connection within California and consider impacts to residents in disadvantaged communities.

Additionally, CARB is pursuing research to better understand how COVID-19 is affecting travel behavior and how this varies in different parts of California (and across socioeconomic groups). The goal of this new research is to identify policy opportunities that promote VMT (vehicle miles traveled) reduction after COVID-19 where feasible (e.g. more and better spaces for walking/biking) while also ensuring Californians have clean mobility options, such as transit, that can help them get back to work. We will be pursuing this through surveys and analysis of “big data” on VMT. As part of that, we are examining changes in air quality, traffic counts, VMT and freight activity related to the COVID ‘stay-at-home’ orders.

For more information, contact: Melanie Turner, Office of Communication

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 PR NLimage


Promote Like a Pro: how to write a press release

by Betsy Crowfoot Senescu

‘Win an award? ‘Got a new book to promote? ‘Finally landed that new job? There will come a time you’ll want to toot your horn (it’s good business!) so here are seven simple rules for creating a press release:

    1. Start with a catchy but concise headline.

    2. Begin with a dateline - City, State, Month, Day, Year--then a paragraph announcing the basics: WHO, HOW, WHAT, WHEN, WHERE, WHY.

    3. Now you can embellish your release with more detailed information: quotes or testimonials, facts and figures, to support your news. This can be one or two paragraphs. Don’t get too flowery (unless you’re a florist).

    4. Finally, add a boilerplate: a short “about” statement including pertinent background, credentials, and business or personal notes.

    5. At the bottom of the page post your contact details: name, email address and phone number. If appropriate add a line stating, “Please contact for further details” (or “for photos” or “to arrange an interview,” etc. ).

    6. Have a friend or colleague check it for errors and clarity.

    7. Send the release on a timely basis to editors at relevant news platforms: the media sources you, your customers and employers peruse, plus local press; include print, web and broadcast platforms. Be sure to thank the editors for their consideration, and again if they run your piece.

 Meade Fischer NLimage

Photo: Meade Fischer

Thoughts on Pandemic Life by Meade Fischer

When my gym was closed due to the pandemic, my morning routine was shattered, and I was left with few alternatives for getting my regular exercise. Also, it was spring, and we'd had some late rains, so it was wildflower and waterfall season. While many were sheltering in place, my thinking was that being out on a trail was less risky than being on the street or in my local market. After all, sick people don't hike. 

[Read and download the full story here]


Med Handbook NLimage

Book Review by Peter Schroeder

Prepper’s Medical Handbook

by William W. Forgey, MD

Everything from AMS (acute mountain sickness) to Zika Virus: that’s what Dr. William W. Forgey covers in his new book, Prepper’s Medical Handbook. A full-time family medicine physician and also medical counsel to Outdoor Writers Association of America (OWAA), Forgey has authored several other books including Wilderness Medicine and Basic Illustrated Wilderness First Aid.

[Read and download the full review here]

Board of Directors

Bob Semerau, Executive Director

Carrie Wilson, President

Carol Martens, Secretary

Members at Large

Betsy Crowfoot Senescu

John Williamson

Gigi de Jong

Don Vachini

Chris Langley

Peter Schroeder

Barbara Steinberg

Tom Martens

Risa Wyatt

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Outdoor Writers Association of California
PO Box 50136
Oxnard, CA 93031