Transforming Elings Park’s Landscape

Restoring Native Habitat

Elings Park Transformation Project

Over the next five years, Santa Barbara Botanic Garden will embark on a project to transform public gardens and open spaces across Santa Barbara County. These transformations will be achieved by replacing thirsty and barren exotic and invasive plants with drought-tolerant native plants, perfectly adapted to support intricate food webs. We’ll also be monitoring the plants, bugs, and birds who depend on these spaces, asking important ecological questions to help us continue to do this work even better as we go.

Through these endeavors, we’ll bolster climate resilience, enhance biological diversity, and promote community well-being by establishing climate-adaptive, biodiverse native habitats while fostering human and natural communities throughout the county.

Our first transformation will take place at the largest community-supported non-profit public park in America – Elings Park! Follow along to watch the transformation happen – or come and join us!


Square feet of land to be transformed


Native species to be planted at site


Native plants to be planted at site

“We’ve recently made a major push to bring native plants back to the Park. Over the past two years, we’ve removed non-natives and planted over 250 California native oaks, plus thousands of native grasses and shrubs. This project concentrates natives in one area, and powerfully demonstrates how this transformation can impact an entire ecosystem.” – Dean Noble, Elings Park executive director.

Biological Diversity

Can native plants help with climate challenges?

Santa Barbara County grapples with three significant climate challenges: drought, extreme heat, and heightened fire occurrences. These challenges strain our water resources, pose health risks, and threaten our ecosystem. They also disrupt the delicate balance of plant and animal life critical for essential services like maintaining clean air, water, stable terrain, and food production.

We can mitigate these challenges by planting native plants in our urban and suburban landscapes. Native plants play a vital role in supporting diverse fauna and mitigating climate-related issues such as invasive species and water scarcity. Additionally, native plants act as natural carbon sinks, aiding in climate change mitigation. By embracing and integrating native plants into the places where we live, work, and play, we can proactively address these climate challenges and protect our environment for us and future generations to come.

Get involved

Fostering Community Through Volunteering

Transforming this one-acre plot in Elings Park is just a part of the work. Through this project, we also aim to bring together an inspired community of environmental stewards. To do this we have several opportunities to get involved. Join us for a nature walk, attend a community forum, volunteer for habitat restoration work (with inclusive opportunities for differently-abled individuals), assist with bug processing in our labs, collaborate in data collection as a citizen scientist, and/or become a native plant ambassador and help us spread the word about the power of native plants. Click below to become a volunteer!

Restoration Begins at Elings Park

The Story of Elings Transformation

Behind every great transformation story are the people who make it happen. Without the support of community members, partners, funders and Garden staff, none of this would be possible.

This project proves, when people come together in support of the environment, progress is possible. So tune in and follow our journey on YouTube as we share progress and stories from our scientist and our community along the way.

Partners & SPonsors

Together We’re Creating Change

Without the support of our partners and sponsors, we wouldn’t be able to restore this site to a thriving native habitat, benefiting our local community.

A big thank you to Elings Park for their commitment to removing invasive plants and restoring native habitats and to Channel Islands Restoration for helping us inspire a community of volunteers and rally together to do this important work.

We’d also like to thank Southern California Edison, Santa Barbara Foundation, John and Gwen Smart Foundation, and The Walter J. and Holly O. Thomson Foundation for their support of this restoration project.

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Meet the Team