SANTA BARBARA, Calif. – The sprawling 200-acre Parma Park in Santa Barbara is going to have welcoming trails and a burst of color this spring.
A sustainable trails project is underway with several new paths, many refurbished trails and upgraded areas for the public to enjoy.
That includes an array of native plants grown from seeds collected in the park and the nearby Sycamore Canyon watershed.
"We are doing maintenance on about 80 percent of the trails, adding a couple of new trails, restoring some trails that got completely overgrown after the (2008) Tea Fire. We just didn't have the resources to maintain that," said Assistant Santa Barbara Park Planner, Monique O'Conner. "We're taking what was previous quite disturbed land and taking it back and turning it into those native vegetations."
Fire vegetation managements teams are cutting down and chipping some invasive shrubs and trees.
The fire crews are working with the park department to bring out the most benefits and carefully lay out a plan in each area. On the vegetation management crew, Liz Alvarez said, they go over the site carefully, "take a walk up the trail see what needs to be taken down and what specifically to watch out for."
The work is in steep areas and different from the other city parks in many ways.
"Here it is a lot hotter, there's barely shade and you know it's steep," said Alvarez. "We've been keeping up."
Specialists in trail development are working with the city on creating a flow for the paths. There's an art to the process. In the end it will make it an easier walk than going straight up.
Trail builder Dave Bennett said, "it is a little bit of a collaboration. There was somebody who did the original design and the city brought that to us and we made some revisions. As we work we say this isn't working there is an obstacle we didn't foresee."
There is a rare grove of olive trees in the park, with a lifeline back over 100 years.
"We go to great lengths to keep the trail grade pretty low so that it is comfortable and people can keep moving without having to stop and take too many breaks," said Bennett.
There will also be thousands of native plants going into the ground and soon they will be coming alive with color. O'Conner said, "so you will see a variety of shrub species. Over this hillside here you will see a grassland and a wild flower field that will really bring a nice pop of color in the springtime."
The projects are funded with a special Coastal Conservancy grant and the Parma Park trust .
O'Conner said they hope to be done by the end of February.
The park is open while the work is underway, but some sites will be closed off for the on going projects.
Parma Park has a main entrance off of Stanwood Drive and also another trail access entrance at El Cielito.