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Felton

Discovery Park

This unique county park promotes environmental literacy through its design and through programs offered by Santa Cruz County Parks and the Santa Cruz Public Libraries.

 

The park serves as a model and teaching site for students, volunteers, and residents interested in learning about, protecting, and preserving our natural world. To volunteer in the park, click here. To learn about programs and activities, click here.

Felton Discovery Park Features

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  • Native and riparian plant walkway and pollinator garden

  • Natural play areas to engage children in climbing and  exploration

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  • Interpretive signs about pollinators, watershed, riparian zones, and restoring fire’s natural role  

  • Musical instruments to play together

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  • Watershed displays to promote conservation and environmental action

  • A “human sundial” to intrigue and inform

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  • Gathering area for storytimes and environmental literacy programs

  • Benches and paths for strolling, conversing, and relaxing

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A wide pedestrian walk guides visitors through native riparian and pollinator demonstration gardens. Interpretive signs on pollinators and riparian ecology inspire and teach visitors about the natural world. Removal of invasive plants that compete with natives is an ongoing project led by Felton Library Friends and Santa Cruz County Parks. To volunteer to help with this project, click here

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Park Plants

The park is situated on an environmentally sensitive site with Bull Creek, a tributary of San Lorenzo River, bisecting the 2+acre library and park site. Native grasses, herbaceous plants, and trees were chosen to mitigate the removal of natives due to construction, inspire visitors with native plant ideas for home gardens, and provide a healthy sanctuary for struggling insect populations.

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History & Ongoing Projects

In 2016 the non-profit Nature Explore was engaged by Felton Library Friends to explore utilizing the north side of Bull Creek for outdoor discovery. The proximity of the creek provided a unique opportunity to weave environmental literacy and stewardship programs into the library.

Working with county officials and key stakeholders, preliminary plans were developed that laid the groundwork for next steps. In 2018 BASE Landscape Architecture was chosen by Santa Cruz County Parks to further develop plans for the north side of Bull Creek with an emphasis on riparian, native, and pollinator plants. Joni Janecki and Associates were chosen by the county to landscape the south side of Bull Creek.

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Riparian restoration began in 2018 and included extensive removal of invasive species such as Himalayan blackberry hybrid, vinca, ivy, and Scotch broom. Crews from the California Conservation Corps and Americorps were invaluable during this two-year period. 

 

The park opened in 2020. Felton Library Friends continues to work with County Parks to develop environmental education, remove invasive species,  add and replace plants, provide more shade, and plan for public art. FLF and County Parks hold a community work party the first Saturday morning of every month. To volunteer click here.

Park Articles & Videos

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By engaging visitors through teaching and play, the Felton Library Discovery Park lays the groundwork for healthy community building focused on a relationship with the natural world that promotes and protects the environment for generations to come.

  • A mini-documentary about Felton Discovery Park’s landscape designer Patricia Algara, who creates imaginative places for children and pollinators, can be viewed here.

  • The Discovery Park builders won an award from The American Public Works Association Monterey Bay Chapter in the category “2021 Project of the Year: Structures Under 5 Million.” The park was also featured on the World Landscape Architecture industry website. Read the article here.

  • Past articles associated with the park coming soon.

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Resources

Santa Cruz County is rich with a number of organizations dedicated to promoting and protecting the natural world.

 

Pollinator and native plant sites focus on the interconnectedness of all life.

 

Wildfire resilience, a now-common phrase, helps inform the community on best practices for wildfire prevention.

"By creating libraries with integrated natural spaces, we create a center for developing kids’ intelligence, curiosity and imagination. Books nurture learning and inner imagination, while play in nature engages the sense of curiosity and exploration critical to healthy brain development. Putting both of these essential childhood experiences in one place is a simple idea, but one that could have profound effects on whole neighborhoods." - Richard Louv