200 Native Oaks to be Planted in Elings Park

Source: Elings Park Foundation

More than 200 native California island oaks and live coast oaks will be planted along Jerry Harwin Parkway in Elings Park as part of a collaboration between the nonprofit park, City of Santa Barbara, and Channel Islands Restoration. The trees and plantings of native shrubs and groundcover replace non-native Peruvian pepper trees slated for removal as part of this effort to restore native plant species to the 230-acre public park.

    “Oaks are the foundation of the Park’s natural ecosystem,” said Park Executive Director Dean Noble. “They support the web of life, including hundreds of insect species, which feed many of the 141 bird species that visit the park, and are champs in cleaning carbon dioxide out of the atmosphere.”

    The trees can be named by community members with a donation to Elings Park, including the naming options. For more information about this “Trees of Life” program, contact Marinella Baker at mbaker@elingspark.org or (805) 569-5611.

    A private nonprofit organization, Elings Park has worked on this project with the City of Santa Barbara Department of Parks & Recreation and the Street Trees Advisory Committee, which both approved the project, and the Santa Barbara Botanic Garden, Arcadia Studio, Rincon Consultants, and private horticultural professionals.

    “As the Park evolved, the original concept of a California native landscape was diluted by well-intentioned plantings that departed from that theme,” said Bob Cunningham, ASLA, of Arcadia Studio who developed the planting plan. “This new planting begins the process of returning the Park to its intended focus as an example of appropriate landscaping for our local climate.”

About the New Plantings

    The Park has purchased 50 mature, field-grown trees to be planted among the more than 50 existing oaks in an area adjacent the park’s main road. The new island oaks (Quercus tomentella) and coast live oaks (Quercus agrifolia) range in size up to 15-feet tall. With proper care, coast live oaks can live 250 years, and island oaks can live up to 400 years.

    The City of Santa Barbara has provided 141 coast live oak seedlings grown from acorns gathered in Santa Barbara by Channel Islands Restoration, which will plant and then maintain the trees for seven years.  The seedlings are part of mitigation for the Las Positas/Modoc Road Multiuse Path Project, a 2.6-mile separated multiuse pathway that includes Las Positas Road from Modoc Road to Cliff Drive, and is currently under construction.

    Other California native plants and shrubs will be planted along Jerry Harwin Parkway. Most of the species are already present in the park or endemic to the Coastal Sage Scrub plant community, and several have been developed by nurseries from native species. They include elderberry, holly leaf cherry, laurel sumac, ceanothus (four species), brush sunflower, California buckwheat, John Dourley manzanita, Dr. Hurd manzanita, fuchsia-flowering gooseberry, Catalina currant, Mexican bush sage, bon bon sage, Point Sal spreader purple sage, and silver carpet beach aster.

About Non-native Peruvian Pepper Trees

    The 29 Peruvian pepper trees were planted more than 20 years ago and line Jerry Harwin Parkway in a formal arrangement. Though often used for decorative gardening, pepper trees are considered invasive in a natural setting as they crowd out native vegetation and invade wild habitats.

    “Not all non-natives are invasive,” says Steve Windager, PhD, president and executive director of the Santa Barbara Botanic Garden. “However, it’s important to know which ones are – and avoid them. Invasive plants outcompete other species and make habitat inhospitable, causing damage to your local ecosystem.”

    Elings Park has offered the pepper trees to major landscaping companies and welcomes inquiries. Recipients would have to be able to excavate, box, and move each tree.


Written by ElingsPark

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