Thursday, May 24, 2018, 7:30 p.m.: Lessons learned from 12 years of local stewardship in an urban nature park in Southern California, with Barbara Eisenstein: Cities love to cut ribbons at park openings; however, it is what happens next that determines the success or failure of urban habitat parks. Without proper care, even beautifully designed and installed landscapes will fail. For twelve years volunteers have been caring for a nature park in the city of South Pasadena to prevent it from reverting to its formerly degraded state. Prior to the creation of the park, the site along the Arroyo Seco Flood Control Channel was used for illegal dumping, homeless encampments and passive recreation including walking and horseback riding. Within six months of the opening in 2004 the recently extirpated weeds were making an impressive comeback on the three-acre parcel. In response, Barbara initiated a volunteer park stewardship program, Friends of South Pasadena Nature Park. Over the years the group has developed strategies for replacing noxious weeds with locally appropriate native plants. Many of these practices would work in other newly designated urban habitat parks. Though it has taken years – and there is still much work to do – a small team of volunteers, with city support, is gradually improving conditions in the park.
Barbara Eisenstein is a native plant gardener, writer and blogger. Her book, “Wild Suburbia – Learning to Garden with Native Plants”, guides new and experienced gardeners on a journey toward sustainable, habitat gardening. Barbara is a research associate at Rancho Santa Ana Botanic Garden, Plant Sale Chair of the CNPS San Gabriel Mountains Chapter), and founder of Friends of South Pasadena Nature Park.