The Chavez Park Conservancy won a grant last year from the UC Berkeley Chancellor’s office to conduct a study of the Native Plant Area in the park, with a view toward its preservation and restoration. A condition of the grant was that the City of Berkeley give its OK. We have now been notified by the UC Chancellor’s office that the City Manager’s office has rejected the grant, killing the project.
The UC Chancellor’s office had awarded a $5,000 grant for the native plant study. We are indebted to the Chancellor’s committee staff, headed by Ruben Lizardo, for their gracious and continuing support for this project. We had raised additional funds from private philanthropy sufficient to complete the project.
We had a highly qualified panel of experts ready to perform the native plant study.
Prof. Joe McBride of the UC College of Environmental Design, an internationally recognized authority on park restoration, was the faculty sponsor of the study.
David Kaplow, a native plant contractor and consultant who was a principal of the nonprofit group (Design Associates Working with Nature – DAWN) that planted the native garden in the 1980s, was prepared to work on the study.
Chris Kent, a licensed landscape architect with the PGA firm, was committed to participate.
No City funds and no city staff hours were required.
We are grateful for letters of support from the local chapters of the Audubon Society, the Sierra Club, the California Native Plant Society, the Nature in the City nonprofit, and the Berkeley Partnership for Parks.
Thanks are due to the individuals who assisted in preparing the grant application, notably Jutta Burger, Senior Scientist with the California Invasive Plant Council, and Bob Huttar, a certified arborist and ecological consultant.
We are indebted to the members of the working group supporting the study, including Sheila Jordan, former Superintendent of Public Instruction in Alameda County, Norman La Force, long time park activist in the Sierra Club, Carol Denney, park activist, writer, and musician, and Carl Anthony, environmental equity advocate and former chair of the Berkeley Planning Commission.
Our thanks go out to the individuals in Berkeley’s City government who told us of their support.
We are disappointed at the City Manager’s decision to kill the native plant study.
However, we will continue our ongoing work to remove invasive weeds and improve the habitat in the Native Plant Area. Native plants preserve continuity with California’s natural heritage. They provide vital habitat for native pollinators and wildlife. The 3.5 acre Native Plant Area in the park has historic importance as a pioneer project. It stands today as the sole shady, wooded refuge in the 90-acre park, beloved by many.
We are encouraged by the UC Chancellor committee’s invitation to apply for the project again in the next round of funding.