Native Plant Grant OK’ed

Original sign for Native plant communities established by DAWN in 1980s. Like the sign, the plantings urgently need restoration

Success! The UC Berkeley Chancellor’s Community Partnership Fund has approved the Chavez Park Conservancy’s application for phase one of the project to restore the Native Plant Communities established by Design Associates Working with Nature (DAWN) in the 1980s. The area is located on the western slope of the park just north of the kite lawn next to the parking circle at the end of Spinnaker Way. This 3.5 acre grove contains a variety of local native plants as well as natives from up and down the California coast, including some unique and seldom seen species. Unfortunately, a number of exotic invasives are also present and are impairing the health and survival of some of the indigenous plantings. The area has had minimal maintenance since it was established. Details are in the Conservancy’s application; a full copy of the binder is available for download here.

The Conservancy plan calls for an ecological survey of the area and a set of proposals for restoration. That’s Phase One. After publication, analysis, and discussion of the proposals, a separate round of funding will be required to perform the agreed restoration work.

The Chancellor’s grant in the amount of $5,000 is short of the Conservancy’s request, but efforts are underway to make up the shortfall via contributions from private philanthropy. The main issue now is that UC requires the written approval of the City’s Parks & Waterfront Department before it will pay the grant. On Wednesday July 8, a string of supporters for the project appeared via Zoom at a meeting of the Parks & Waterfront Commission to urge the Department to give its stamp of approval for the native plant restoration project. Norman La Force for the Sierra Club and Judy Schwartz for the Native Plant Society and emeritus professor Joe McBride of UC Berkeley were among the eight supporters who offered statements. As one Commissioner observed, we made an impressive showing.

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