Isla Vista is growing greener by the week, as volunteers from Goleta Valley Beautiful plant oak trees along Camino Corto and the Del Sol Vernal Pools in an effort to reforest the area.
Ken Knight, executive director of Goleta Valley Beautiful, said student interns and volunteers began planting the trees Jan. 24, and said more trees were planted over the weekends of Jan. 28 and Feb. 12. Funding for the project, Knight said, came from a $5,824 grant from the Shoreline Preservation Fund (SPF). He said volunteers have planted 45 oak trees so far, and said the group hopes to plant an additional 55 trees throughout Isla Vista in the coming months.
“This is the first large-scale project Goleta Valley Beautiful has done in Isla Vista,” Knight said. “We hope to plant at least 100 trees on the streets and in rural areas in Isla Vista.”
SPF Grants Manager Scott Bull said this is the second grant his organization has awarded to Goleta Valley Beautiful, and he said they decided to fund this project because it was beneficial to the appearance and the environment of the area.
“We feel it’s important to plant more trees in Isla Vista for aesthetic and habitat reasons,” Bull said. “Isla Vista is such a dense community, so creating more open space makes it a more livable place.”
Knight said volunteers have been planting the oak trees on Camino Corto with the intent to form an “oak canopy” over the street.
“We’re planting on the edge [of the street],” Knight said. “We wanted to leave some open areas. We’re also planting only oaks at this point.”
Knight said the small seedlings that volunteers have been planting will take several decades to become full-sized trees, but he said the group’s efforts will pay off in the long run.
“We’re talking about a long-term project,” Knight said. “The trees we’re planting now won’t mature for 30 to 40 years.”
Goleta Valley Beautiful is a nonprofit environmental organization that relies on community volunteers and students to execute its projects. Despite the group’s addition of approximately 500 trees to the Santa Barbara area annually, Knight said planting trees in Isla Vista has been particularly difficult.
“There is a large need for planting trees [in Isla Vista]” Knight said. “The problem is we have to be consistent with the development plan. We can’t plant trees where the area hasn’t been developed, so we have a lot of constraints.”
Heather Moine, a senior environmental studies major and Goleta Valley Beautiful intern, said she organized the plantings on Feb. 12 and 13, but Goleta Valley Beautiful has had trouble finding volunteers to help with the project.
“I really enjoy [working on this project], but it’s been pretty difficult to find volunteers,” Moine said. “Just finding volunteers through posting fliers and asking around is pretty difficult.”
Knight said Isla Vista residents who wish to help can volunteer Feb. 27 or Mar. 5, and can find more information by visiting the organization’s website at www.goletavalleybeautiful.org.