The Pilkington Creek Riparian Enhancement Project is restoring native habitat to riparian woodland and coastal prairie along a seasonal coastal stream that flows to Seabright Beach. In the winter the stream forms a bar built estuary that flows to the ocean during periods of high rainfall.  Part of Tyrrell Park, the site is borders Brook Ave, just east of the Santa Cruz Museum of Natural History. Groundswell Coastal Ecology leads the project in partnership with the City of Santa Cruz’s Adopt-A-Park Program.

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 banks of Pilkington Creek were blanketed with an almost impenetrable thicket of nonnative mattress vine (Muehlenbeckia complexa), himalayan blackberry (Rubus armeniacus), and english ivy (Hedera helix), which suffocated the creek ecosystem.  In 2010, volunteers worked tirelessly to eliminate the mattress vine and other invasive species, with support of the City and the Museum.

Passionate volunteers have since replaced the invasives with a glorious diversity of native plants. These plants provide wildlife habitat and produce nectar, berries, and 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. As well as supporting resident bird species, the site has become an important “stopover” for migrating birds on their way to and from their southern overwintering grounds.

In this ongoing effort, volunteers continue to remove regrowth of nonnative species and steward native plant biodiversity (plant, prune, water, and mulch).  We work most Sundays, from 10am to 1pm. New volunteers are welcome!

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)

Pink flowering currant berries

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