Eleven shovel-wielding volunteers replaced over a dozen trees at Girsh Park with trees more suitable for the park’s environment.

The project was hosted by Goleta Valley Beautiful, a volunteer organization that works to enhance landscaping in public areas and neighborhoods. Volunteers met at 9 a.m. on Saturday to replace a row of dead-looking London plane trees and one over-watered coastal live oak with 12 young Chinese pistache trees and one southern live oak. Kenneth Knight, executive director and certified arborist of GVB, said the group faced an ugly problem.

“This row of London plane trees get a disease when blooming that makes it look dead. This is not good for the most common tree in the park,” Knight said. “The natural habitat of the coastal live oak over there is a forest. Forests don’t get irrigated on a daily basis, so it’s not doing well here.”

While the trees were still alive, Knight said they were inappropriate for the area’s environment.

“We don’t actually need to replace the trees, but we’re doing it for the aesthetic view,” Knight said. “We also need trees that can work better with irrigated water.”

Despite Saturday’s small turnout, Knight said GVB has seen large groups of volunteers turn out to help at past events.

“It’s generally a small group that shows up, but we have had times when over a hundred people show up,” Knight said. “Many volunteer groups show up, in particular from UCSB. We’ve had the Excursion Club, Circle K, and Big Brothers is here today. We welcome any group.”

Eight of the volunteers were from Los Prietos Boys’ Camp and three were from the Fighting Back Mentor Program, a Big Brother, Little Brother organization.

“We provide educational training for new volunteers who show up. Our goal is to teach how to keep these trees alive in an urban area,” Knight said. “We especially welcome UCSB students to do community service with us because this is in their area.”

John Davis, program manager for Raytheon Electronic Warfare Systems and a big brother, brought his little brothers Prospero and Martin, both 12-year-old students at Goleta Valley Junior High, to the planting.

“I think it’s important to show children that they need to give back to the community,” Davis said. “This is an opportunity for Prospero and Martin to appreciate their community.”

John Nickols, the boys’ coordinator from Los Prietos Boys’ Club, said he agreed with Davis.

“This is a great opportunity for these young men to set out and work under the directions of an older adult figure and learn to work toward a common goal,” Nickols said.

GVB’s next tree planting is at 1 p.m. on Friday, Feb. 13, at 4400 Cathedral Oaks Rd.