Ulistac Natural Area, Santa Clara’s reclaimed natural open space, is bright with spring wildflowers: clumps of golden California poppies in fields of wild grass, crimson and gold flannelbush flowers against blue sky, wine-red hummingbird sage with green leaves, and purple ceanothus.
The greater Santa Clara community gathered at Ulistac Natural Area (UNA) Saturday April 5 to celebrate spring with tours of the 40-acre reserve, live music, and hands-on information booths sponsored by nature-loving organizations and schools. The annual celebration was organized by Ulistac Natural Area Restoration and Education Project (UNAREP), which received praise from all for its volunteer restoration efforts.
“It was so delightful to see all the kids that came through having such a good time with the exhibits,” says Kathleen, a park neighbor who, with her husband, Roger, returned to UNA for a Sunday stroll.
“It’s such a nice feeling to come out here and be in nature. We always encounter other walkers, and everyone is friendly,” says Kathleen. “Volunteers are working and restoring it to native plants.”
“Moving the soccer complex here basically would destroy the viability, the integrity, of the park,” says Roger, addressing the proposal that surfaced last year in Santa Clara of whether to turn part of UNA into fields for a soccer park.
Others also were enjoying a typical Sunday afternoon at UNA—strolling, running, walking dogs, birding, and photographing wildflowers and birds.
Lisa Myers led a group of birdwatchers from the Santa Clara Valley Audubon Society (www.scvas.org) on their spring birdathon.
“We’re out seeing all the birds we can for the day,” says Myers, “and this is a prime birding habitat.” The birders—from Campbell, Cupertino, Gilroy, Mountain View, and San Jose—had just spotted a fox sparrow.
Justin Eddy walked along carrying his eight-month-old daughter, Evelyn, in a chest pack.
“I like the progress of how they’re improving the natural area. The work the volunteers do makes it a special place,” says Eddy.
Jaclyn, a student at The King’s Academy in Sunnyvale, stopped running to let her dad catch up.
“Being a runner, it’s nice to have a place in nature but not so far away from city life that you have to drive there. This is a great place with a wonderful purpose,” says Jaclyn.
“So few places show us what the valley would have looked like. This is a reminder of that. I appreciate the work of the volunteers bringing it to a natural state by planting native species,” says Jaclyn’s dad, Tom Greene.
Sounds of a crowd cheering carried from across the street at Lick Mill Park, contrasting with the quiet and the chirping of birds at UNA. Abhishek Vanamali focused his camera on the birds.
“Saturday was a great turnout, and I’m glad more people are aware of the park now,” says a man walking a dog.
UNA, located on Lick Mill Boulevard near Tasman Drive, has evolved from being the habitat of Ohlone Indians then Spanish missionaries to being a pear orchard, a golf course, a vacant lot, and, now, a peaceful open space reserve developed through many hours of community volunteer efforts.
Volunteers can help with restoration projects from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. the first and third Saturdays of the month. For information, visit www.ulistac.org, email firstname.lastname@example.org, or call (408) 482-7608.