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September 12, 2023

Landscape Transformation Project at Elings Park Breaks Ground with Restoration Work Parties by Volunteers Beginning Saturday, September 16

By SBBG
  • Volunteers needed, along with donations of cardboard for site weed abatement
  • First work party follows free nature hike at Elings Park on Saturday, Sept. 16
  • Nonprofit Channel Islands Restoration Joins the Project
  • Final public forum at Botanic Garden on Wednesday, Sept. 13

Santa Barbara, Calif. September, 2023 – Elings Park and Santa Barbara Botanic Garden’s Landscape Transformation Project needs volunteers willing to get their hands dirty by controlling invasive plants and planting California-native plants on a one-acre site on the Park’s South Bluff. The first phase of the project involves installing black plastic (and later, cardboard) to discourage weeds. The restoration project and science experiences concentrate California’s native plants in this area and will compare the abundance, diversity, and composition of plant and animal life both before and after the transformation.

The project breaks ground with the first Volunteer Restoration Work Party on Saturday, September 16 from 10 a.m. to noon, following the monthly Elings Park Nature Walks led by Garden experts from 9 to 10 a.m. These work parties will continue on the third Saturday of the month, at least through Spring 2024, and additional dates will be added. To register, visit SBBotanicGarden.org/classes-events/landscape-transformation-project-volunteer-opportunities/

Channel Islands Restoration Joins Project

As site preparation begins, nonprofit contractor Channel Islands Restoration (CIR) has joined the project. CIR works on the islands and locally to restore habitat through invasive plant management, native plant propagation, and native plant installation. They also promote environmental education and conduct research and monitoring (www.cirweb.org).

“This multi-faceted project helps us to determine best practices for restoring the rest of the South Bluffs at Elings Park,” said Denise Knapp, Ph.D., the Garden’s director of conservation and research. “We’re super excited to partner with Channel Islands Restoration and to share our combined strengths in habitat restoration, food webs, community building, and scientific experiments.”

“Channel Islands Restoration has been a proactive part of restoration at Elings alongside many other organizations over the years, said Ken Owen, CIR executive director. “This new project partnership with the Garden provides an important research component to the park’s ongoing restoration. It also allow our community members to make a direct impact to enhance this shared space.”

Upcoming Landscape Restoration Activities

The public can attend the final of four free Public Forums held on Wednesday, September 13 from 5:30 to 7 p.m. in Santa Barbara Botanic Garden’s Blaksley Library. It is led by Dr. Knapp and Scot Pipkin, the Garden’s director of education. The public will hear about the project, offer input, and find out how to get involved.

The next free Nature Hike & Restoration Work Party is Saturday, September 16. The hike, held from 9 to 10 a.m. at Elings Park, focuses on pollinators and is led by Sarah Cusser, Ph.D., a Garden terrestrial invertebrate conservation ecologist, and Kylie Etter, a conservation technician. Walkers meet at the Park’s Administration Building parking lot. For Restoration Work Party information, see above.

Donations of clean, wax-free, cardboard are also needed to be used together with wood chips and mulch, as eco-friendly “sheet mulching” to block sunlight and prevent weed seeds from germinating in the project site. Boxes must be broken down. Donations are now being accepted at the Elings Park Administration Building on weekdays between 9 a.m. and 5 p.m. and at the Garden’s main entrance on Wednesday, September 20 from 3 to 5 p.m.; Friday, September 29 and Wednesday, October 4 from 8 to 10 a.m.; and Friday, October 13 from 3 to 5 p.m.

About the Landscape Transformation at Elings Park

The project’s one-acre location on the South Bluffs has been selected and staff and project volunteers will control the weed seed bank, then plant and monitor the native species. Earlier this spring, Garden staff began monitoring plants, birds, pollinators, and other bugs and will be following up after planting to gather additional data on the site’s vitality. Data before and after the transformation will be compared, and both will be compared to an adjacent invaded area.

Elings Park opened in 1985 as the result of a community campaign to turn the former landfill into a public park. First encompassing 90 acres, the Park expanded to 230 acres in 1994 with the purchase of an adjacent property. Currently, approximately 75% is undeveloped – much of it in the South Bluffs area addressed in this project.

Over the past two years, many invasive plants have been removed from the Park’s most visited areas and over 250 California-native oaks, plus thousands of native grasses and shrubs, have been planted. CIR is involved in these and other ongoing restoration activities at Elings Park.

Nature Walks Continue

A series of free Nature Walks at Elings Park led by Garden experts continues through December 2023. Each hike has a different natural history focus, such as plants, pollinators, or birds. Walkers meet at the Elings Park Office parking lot. Visit SBBotanicGarden.org/calendar.

Saturday, September 16, 9 to 10 a.m. – Pollinators

Led by Sarah Cusser, Ph.D., the Garden’s terrestrial invertebrate conservation ecologist, and Kylie Etter, conservation technician.

Saturday, October 21, 9 a.m. to 10 a.m. – Birds

Led by Scot Pipkin, the Garden’s director of education, and Zach Philips, Ph.D., terrestrial invertebrate conservation ecologist

Saturday, November 18, 9 a.m. to 10 a.m. – Plants and Bugs

Led by Zach Philips, Ph.D., the Garden’s terrestrial invertebrate conservation ecologist, and José Flores, conservation technician

Saturday, December 16, 9 to 10 a.m. – Birds

Led by Scot Pipkin, the Garden’s director of education, and Zach Philips, Ph.D., terrestrial invertebrate conservation ecologist

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Elings Park is the largest privately funded, public park in the United States. More than two times the size of Disneyland, this scenic park on the Santa Barbara Mesa features sweeping views, picturesque oak groves and has been Santa Barbara’s gathering place for recreation, arts, nature, and inspiration since 1985. Elings Park is made possible by community donations and receives no regular government funding. Visit www.ElingsPark.org.