Bay Nature magazineSpring 2011


Restoration at Redwood Park in Los Altos

April 1, 2011

Redwood Grove Park near downtown Los Altos has the fingerprints (and footprints) of volunteers all over it. Palo Alto-based nonprofit Acterra is leading restoration at this 5.9-acre park named for the 40 or so redwoods planted here by a former landowner in the 1920s. Purchased by the city in 1974, the park also offers a mix of oak woodlands, grasslands, and the riparian corridor of Adobe Creek. But over the years, the understory became choked with Himalayan blackberry, Algerian ivy, and French broom, and the banks of Adobe Creek were invaded by the dreaded giant reed, Arundo donax.

Since the restoration project began a little over a year ago, 845 volunteers have spent more than 2,000 hours removing weeds and replacing them with sword ferns, redwood sorrel, and other natives. This rainy season they put in 500 plants from Acterra’s nursery.

“I’m amazed at how quickly the workdays fill up,” says Acterra’s project director, Junko Bryant. “I think people are looking for a way to give back. If you provide the opportunity, they will come.”

Two school clubs, one from Cupertino’s Homestead High School and one from Mountain View’s Saint Francis High School, each adopted an oak tree, one surrounded by blackberries and the other covered in Algerian ivy. About 30 kids came out three times to tackle the tangles. They also raised money to buy native plants to replace the invasives.

Bryant’s twice-monthly workdays have been so popular that volunteers have to sign up in advance. To join in or to learn more about Acterra, go to

About the Author

Writer Aleta George trained as a Jepson Prairie docent in 2009. In addition to writing Bay Nature's Ear to the Ground column, she has written for Smithsonian, High Country News, and the Los Angeles Times.

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