If you’re feeling penned in these days, you should check out a new park!   Discovery Park, located next to the new Felton Library, is now open! Nancy Gerdt, President of the Felton Library Friends and Friends of Santa Cruz County Parks’ board member, was eager to share more details with me. “When we began our whole library campaign in 2005, it went through many iterations.  It wasn’t until 2015, when the county bought land on the other side of Bull Creek that we thought of a new park, which worked so well with our theme of environmental conservation.”

After much research done by Felton Library Friends, the organizers “decided to pull in Nature Explore, a nonprofit that helps children get out into nature.  They believe if kids grow up feeling comfortable in nature, they’ll want to take care of it.”  After a two-day workshop with the nonprofit, basic plans were drawn up and fundraising began.   FLF soon ran into difficulties, particularly with, “riparian nature restrictions… We had to provide mitigation for altering the habitat.”  Fortunately, the San Lorenzo Valley Water District quickly stepped up and provided land adjacent their water treatment plant to “replace moved trees.” Gerdt adds, “We are really indebted to the SLVWD for their land donation.  In the future, we’d like to work with them for watershed education.  Maybe kids could take field trips of the water plant and learn how their water becomes clean.”

Once FLF overcame the obstacle of riparian restrictions, it soon became the inspiration behind the park.  “We realized this would be wonderful learning opportunity, not only for our children, but for our community to learn how to take care of our nature... We’ve had to remove a lot of invasive species and replace them with natives. In the future, our community will help do so to maintain the park, and they’ve already begun to help!  Last month a bunch of volunteers came in with the help of Margaret Ingram, the Santa Cruz County Park Volunteer Coordinator…  SLV Rotary will soon come in for a day, and they’ve decided to adopt an area of the park… Hopefully different organizations can adopt different parts of the park, maintaining and learning about nature.”

In addition to the education provided by maintaining the park, the park raises awareness of the SLV watershed and demonstrates pollinator gardens.  Gerdt is “excited to have programming on both topics as soon as we’re released from COVID...  When you get into ecology and environmentalism, it all connects.  We have so many places to jump off for educational programming.”

Gerdt sums up the park’s potential, “There are so many threads not yet woven through, but they’re still there now, and it’s all come together because of the community, SLVWD, and Santa Cruz County Parks.” If you’d like to volunteer to help maintain the park, you can sign up at http://www.feltonlibraryfriends.org.

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