Friends of Balboa Park: Sustaining Balboa Park for the Future

Nate Balboa Park Cultural Partnership, News & Events, Sustainability Program

Friends of Balboa Park, one of 29 member organizations of the Balboa Park Cultural Partnership, is an organization that aims “to preserve Balboa Park’s legacy for future generations through park-wide projects.” Sustainability is a multifaceted field, but the Merriam Webster’s definition is “capable of being sustained.” While our program focuses on environmental sustainability within Balboa Park member buildings and operations, Friends of Balboa Park is constantly working to sustain Balboa Park in the most pure way, so that it is here for future generations.

Some of their successfully completed sustainability projects include:

  • 2008: Light the Way: Installed 4,000 LED lamps along the Cabrillo Bridge and El Prado saving 141,000 kWh, and $21,000 in energy costs
  • 2016: Cabrillo Bridge Light Standard Restoration: LED bulbs were installed on the bridge for illumination in the evenings
  • 2016: Park Blvd Median Improvements: redid landscaping on medians that cover almost a half a mile, installed 2,000 drought tolerant plants and drip irrigation, saving the city 500,000 gallons of water each year

Because Balboa Park is a city park, many of their ongoing projects that aim to extend the longevity of the Park relate to conserving natural resources that help the park function. One such ongoing project is a comprehensive look at water use in order to optimize and conserve the precious resource. The Water-Wise Upgrades project has a completion goal of 2020 and has made great progress since its inception in 2012. The published Call to Action serves as a roadmap for the project and is all-encompassing. In addition to the optimization part of the project, Friends is also exploring water catchment on the roof of Casa de Balboa. The project is looking at a combination of rain and HVAC condensate collection. Learn more about the project by watching this video from KPBS. Additionally, water mapping of infrastructure was completed in partnership with SDSU students and is now utilized by City staff.

Another project that is currently in progress is the Bird Park improvements project that will incorporate native plants in keeping with drought tolerance to use less water and will promote soil restoration. Friends also recently completed a collaboration called Birds of Balboa Park to promote education on the local birds of the area.

In addition to projects, Friends of Balboa Park facilitates ongoing programs that incorporate environmental sustainability principles.

  • Trees to Treasures is a program that repurposes downed trees to lumber and other usable items like benches.
  • Dedicate a Tree is a partnership with Parks and Recreation that is successful in implementing more trees in the park through dedications, which sequester carbon dioxide and produce oxygen for the environment.
  • Adopt a Plot is a program that allows individuals or businesses to “adopt” a plot of land in the Park. This has led to the integration of native plants and additional water savings.

Sustainability and conservation efforts take a village, and it is important to have members of the Cultural Partnership continuing work like this to sustain the environment so that Balboa Park is here for generations to come.