On Friday May 3rd, Rolling Hills Middle School students and school administrators, City of Watsonville staff and officials, Watsonville Wetlands Watch, and neighbors celebrated the opening of the new trail and neighborhood greening project within Hazelwood Park, a neighborhood pocket park next to Rolling Hills school.
Working alongside City of Watsonville and Watsonville Wetlands Watch staff, students and neighbors held a park stewardship work day, culminating with 45 students, neighbors, and staff planting a ceremonial tree together to commemorate the completion of the Hazelwood Park improvements.
Mayor Francisco Estrada, former council member Jimi Dutra, Director of Parks and Community Services Director Nick Calubaquib, Rolling Hills School Assistant Principal Greg Fry, and Watsonville Wetlands Watch Executive Director Jonathan Pilch spoke of the projects benefits.
“This project has so many benefits, from new safe walking and bicycling routes to school, water quality improvements for our wetlands, new native landscaping and trees to capture atmospheric carbon and combat climate change, and improved neighborhood open spaces” said Jonathan Pilch, Executive Director of Watsonville Wetlands Watch. “We have seen a real transformation of the site and to have students and neighbors as instrumental partners is going to ensure long lasting success of this project.”
The one-acre park contains a stretch of trail that connects Herman Avenue to Melwood Court and is a popular path for Rolling Hills students. The restoration and improvement project included removal of a narrow and broken down trail and re-design and reconstruction of an improved and expanded trail, native and drought tolerant trees and landscaping, removal of dead trees, and installation of a stormwater filtration area.
Funding for the project comes from a $180,000 grant to the City of Watsonville and Watsonville Wetlands Watch from the California Natural Resources Agency’s Urban Greening Program and was supplemented by a grant from the California Department of Forestry and Fire Protections Urban and Community Forestry Program to install trees on streets and parks throughout Watsonville. Funding from these programs comes from the State’s Greenhouse Gas Reduction Program, which aims to reduce greenhouse gases through carbon sequestration and reducing vehicle miles traveled and to enhance greenspaces that improve air and water quality.
The Hazelwood Park and Rolling Hills Connector Trail improvement project is a part of a City-wide effort to implement urban greening, bicycle and pedestrian trails improvements, and urban forest enhancement projects, identified in the City’s Urban Greening Plan, adopted by the City Council in 2012 and the City’s Climate Action Plan.
The mission of the Watsonville Wetlands Watch is to protect, restore and foster appreciation of the wetlands of the Pajaro Valley. Each year, WWW’s education programs serve over 3,500 students and partners with many local, State, and federal agencies to restore wetlands and wildlife habitat throughout the Watsonville Slough System.
For more information please visit the website at www.watsonvillewetlandswatch.org or visit our Watsonville Wetlands Watch page on Facebook.