Thousands of invasive plants will be replaced over the next five years in a move to restore a portion of Harriett M. Wieder Regional Park, which forms an important trail link between Huntington Beach Central Park and Bolsa Chica State Beach.
Wieder park, opened in 2004, occupies 106 acres of land in Huntington Beach. It was named after Harriett Wieder, who was elected in 1978 as the first female member of the Orange County Board of Supervisors, representing the district that includes her home city. The three-term supervisor died in 2010 at age 89.
The Bolsa Chica Conservancy, the local environmental group heading the project, plans to restore 9.5 acres of the park that have been overwhelmed by invasive vegetation, David Pryor, the group's senior environmental scientist, said in a news release.
Grace Adams, the executive director of the conservancy, said the park is ripe for overgrowth because the only developed area is a small playground that sits on about an acre.
The conservancy hopes to bolster species diversity and the number of native, drought-resistant plants in the area by removing the invasive vegetation, which has overtaken 99% of the parcel, Pryor said.
As an example, he noted plans to help the recovery of the southern Tarplant, a rare plant with bright yellow flowers.
Adams said the modified habitats will help attract species like the California gnatcatcher and the burrowing owl, birds that are not currently nesting in the park but have been seen along California's coasts in environments similar to Wieder's.
The project will be funded through renewed Measure M's Environmental Mitigation Program. The half-cent sales tax measure known as M2, passed by voters in 2006, was intended to continue Measure M's funding of transportation projects in the county but with the added environmental component.
The OCTA authorized the project in 2012, but the conservancy has had to work with the county to finalize the plans, including completing an addendum to an environmental impact report done when the park was originally proposed in 1992, Adams said.
Pryor said it will take until about 2021 before the project, which will include installing a water line, is completed.
Adams said the group is aiming to begin the massive overhaul of invasive vegetation at the end of January or the beginning of February.
Residents will still be able to walk through the unrestricted trails, but some areas may be temporarily closed off if there is safety concern regarding equipment in use, Pryor said.