By Jason KUROSU
Los Angeles County Parks and Recreation has awarded Descanso Gardens with $720,000 to plant two species of new oak trees across four acres of land, adding to the coast live oaks already present at the Gardens.
The Descanso Gardens Oak Woodland Development Project will also include the construction of new trails, landscaping and irrigation in what has been termed an oak woodland habitat. With construction beginning this week, Descanso Gardens executive director David R. Brown said he expects the project to be completed by late spring 2014.
In addition to adding more coast live oaks, the project will also include the planting of Pasadena oaks. Unlike the 1200 oak trees currently in the Oak Forest at Descanso Gardens, Brown said these new oaks would be arranged in “more of a meadow rather than a dense forest.”
“The message of native plants is important in its own right,” said Brown. “Such little native habitat exists anywhere.”
The idea of creating more natural space within Descanso Gardens may lead to a habitat that will support native animal life as well as plant life.
“What we hope to see is a small slice of the original habitat that existed long before this land was settled,” Brown added.
The county funds have been allocated for a grant to the Los Angeles Conservation Corps, in accordance with Proposition A, the Safe Neighborhood Parks Act of 1996, intended to enhance open space and improve park facilities. In addition to the funds, which were approved by the L.A. County board of supervisors this week, $66,000 in private donations have also been contributed to the project according to L.A. Parks and Recreation Public Information Officer Andre Herndon, from the Ayrshire Foundation, a philanthropic organization based in Pasadena, along with another donor who wishes to remain anonymous.
“It’s always great to see a project like this come together,” said Brown. “It may sound sappy, but they become sort of like your children.”
Brown said the Oak Woodland project will hopefully be just the beginning of more expansion into the Gardens’ natural space.
“Hopefully this is a good foreshadowing of what’s to come,” he said.