The Pilkington Creek Riparian Enhancement Project is restoring native habitat to riparian woodland and coastal prairie along a seasonal coastal stream that terminates in a bar built estuary on Seabright Beach.  Part of Tyrrell Park, the site is adjacent to Brook Ave and east of the Santa Cruz Museum of Natural History.

Natives surround a bench along Pilkington Creek.

Jeb Bishop, project lead, surrounded by natives CA Poppy and Seaside Daisy on one of the park benches.

Not long ago the site was blanketed with an almost impenetrable thicket of nonnative invasive mattress vine (Muehlenbeckia complexa), himalayan blackberry (Rubus armeniacus), and english ivy (Hedera helix) which suffocated the creek ecosystem and harbored encampments.  In 2010, with support from the City and Museum,  a grassroots group of volunteers eradicated the mattress vine.

A dedicated group of volunteer land stewards has since worked to replace the invasives with a glorious diversity of native plants. These plants provide structural habitat as well as produce nectar, berries, seeds that support many species of animals.  Over 40 species of native birds have been documented alongside rich populations of bees, butterflies, and other pollinators.

Pink flowering currant berries

Summer fruit of the pink flowering currant (Ribes sanguineum) supports fruit- and seed-eating birds like cedar waxwings and towhees.

The goal of the volunteer effort is to continue removing regrowth of nonnative species, steward native plant biodiversity (plant, prune, water, and mulch).  We work most Sundays, from 10am to 1pm.

Led by Groundswell Coastal Ecology the project is a partnership with the City of Santa Cruz’s Adopt-A-Park Program.

For information on how to participate in this project check out our calendar or contact us at

Community steward Nancy Lens

Nancy Lens, one of the project founders, tends the wilds of Pilkington.

A bright Santa Cruz garter snake by the creek.

Ameri-Corps volunteers planting natives to stabilize the streambank.

Sunday morning planting in the spring with Jennie and Steve.

Student stewards plant among Douglas iris (Iris douglasiana)