Trans-CA Pathway

The Vision

Visitors to the California State University, Stanislaus are immediately struck by the gorgeous setting – 228 acres of mature trees, landscaped grounds, striking water features and the like. A closer look reveals another aspect of campus, one that grew – literally – from the vision of beloved Stanislaus State professor, Dr. Wayne Pierce.

First envisioned as a means of illustrating the native plant communities that historically existed along a transect from the Central Valley to the High Sierra, the Trans-California Pathway – which is inching ever closer toward completion – will be used by biology classes as an outdoor laboratory and source of material, serve as an educational attraction that can be used not only by our own students, but by the community as a whole, and will offer a valuable field trip destination for young students.

It is hoped that University students and the public will use the pathway as an enjoyable venue for outdoor recreation. The pathway will enhance the use of the campus by the public for walking, bicycling, bird watching, and other types of leisure activities. Interpretive signs will add an educational dimension to an already pleasant experience.

Take a few moments to explore and learn more about the Trans-California Pathway and how you can help to fulfill Dr. Pierce’s vision.

Thank you for your support! View: Complete List of Donors

Initial discussions regarding the possibility of a campus arboretum began in the mid-1980s. The arboretum would feature native trees, shrubs, and herbs planted in a transect; such as one would encounter on a trip from the valley eastward into the foothills and up the western slope of the Sierra Nevada Mountains. The transect would be laid out parallel to Monte Vista Avenue, beginning east of the Naraghi Hall of Science area and parking lot 11 and terminating at the University sign and fountain area at the southeast corner of the campus.

The plants would be grouped into four vegetation zones: valley grassland, foothill woodland, lower elevation coniferous forest, and upper elevation coniferous forest. A stream would run intermittently from one end to the other, with walking pathways meandering through the transect and across the water features. Benches would be placed in strategic locations and artwork appropriate for the area, such as sculptures would be included. Geographical/geological features common to each zone would be incorporated. Vegetation will be identified with permanent labels.

The concept was first presented to the Campus Planning Committee in 1987. Landscape architects were commissioned to assist in placing this project on the campus Master Plan. An architectural schematic and the related Field Study Site were completed, as well as estimates of the cost for the importation of topsoil, physical preparation of the site, installation of infrastructure/pathways and plants. Importation of topsoil was accomplished in 1988 as a part of Parking Lot #11 excavation. Soil from that project and an adjacent water-holding pond was used to create the first of two parallel berms that delineate the pathway, a 100-foot wide area stretching from the east end of Lot #11 to the corner of Monte Vista Avenue and Geer Road.

A preliminary architectural rendering was produced and the first phase of the project was started in December of 1988 with the planting of 300 Valley Oak seedlings that had been container-grown from acorns. This planting was supplemented a year later with seedlings provided by then-State Senator McCorquodale as part of a state-wide program promoting the re-establishment of native oaks. These trees were planted and watered for three years by volunteers. These trees are now well established and receive no supplemental water.

Preliminary planning of the second phase of the pathway, the Foothill Woodland, was done by an interdisciplinary Masters student as a part of her Masters project. Additional planting, however, was put on hold pending installation of the necessary infrastructure for the project (water, electrical line, etc.) and the creation of a second berm.

Construction Timeline

1987 Presented to Campus Plan Committee
1988 Topsoil imported; First berm created; first seedlings planted
1989 Second planting of Valley Oak seedlings
1991 Trees became self-sufficient
2003 Added to list of Capital Outlay Projects and Campus Master Plan
2004 Cost estimates developed
2009 Infrastructure completed
2010 Second berm built
2012 Trans-California Pathway Comes to Fruition

To date, more than $210,000 has been donated for the project since its inception. Now that the infrastructure is in place, only $40,000 more is needed to break ground this spring, and complete the project as envisioned by Dr. Wayne Pierce. Donors will receive recognition for their gifts and there are opportunities to place memorials to individuals on site as the pathway is developed.

The Wish List

Your donation can provide one or more trees, scrubs, or plants for the project.

  • California Buckeye (Aesculus californica)
  • Incense Cedar (White Cedar) (Calocedrus decurrens (Libocedrus))
  • Pacific Dogwood (Cornus nutallii)
  • California Juniper (Juniperus californica)
  • Scrub Pine (Pinus attenuate)
  • Jeffrey Pine (Pinus jeffreyi)
  • Sugar Pine (Pinus lambertiana)
  • One-needle Pinyon Pine/Nut Pine (Pinus monophylla)
  • Bull Pine/Silver Pine (Pinus ponderosa)
  • Gray Pine (Pinus sabiniana)
  • Canyon Live Oak (Quercus chrysolepsis)
  • Blue Oak (Q. douglasii)
  • Oregon White Oak (Q. garryana var. Semota)
  • Black Oak (Q. kellogii)
  • Desert Scrub Oak (Q. wizlizenii)
  • Blue Oak (Quercus douglasii)
  • Sierra Redwood (Sequoiadendron giganteum)
  • California Laurel/Bay Tree (Umbellularia californica)

  • Chamise (Adenostoma fasciculatum)
  • Manzanita, Whiteleaf Manzanita (Arctostaphylos manzanita, A. densiflora, A.glauca)
  • Sweet Shrub (Calycanthus occidentalis spicebush)
  • Bush Anemone (Carpenteria californica)
  • Deer Brush (Ceanothus intergerrimus)
  • Redbud (Cercis occidentalis)
  • Mountain Mahogany (Cercocarpus betuloides)
  • Silk Tassel Bush (Garrya elliptica)
  • Toyon (Heteromeles arbutifolia)
  • Silver Lupine (Lupinus albifrons)
  • Mock Orange (Philadelphus lewisii)
  • Golden Currant, Santa Cataline Island Currant, Chaparral Currant, Fuchsia-flower Gooseberry (Ribes aureum, R. viburnifolium, R. malvaceum, R. specious)
  • Western Azalea (Rhododendron occidentale)
  • Coffee Berry (Rhamnus californica)
  • Sugar Bush (Rhus ovate)
  • Cleveland Sage (Salvia clevelandii)
  • Woolly Blue Curls (Trichostema lanatum)
  • Huckleberry (Vaccinium ovatum)

  • California Sagebush, Coastal Sagewort (Artemisia californica, A. pycnocephala)
  • Brodiaea (Brodeia spp.)
  • Chaparral Clematis (Clematis lasiantha)
  • Blue Dicks, Firecracker Flower (Dichelostema capitatum, D. ida-maia)
  • Woodland Strawberry (Fragaria vesca)
  • Coral Bells (Heuchera spp.)
  • California Fuchsia (Epilobium canum)
  • Sulphur Buckwheat (Eriogonum umbellatum)
  • Redwood Sorrel (Oxalis oregano)
  • Scarlet Bugler, Foothill Penstemon (Penstemon centranthifolius, P. heterophyllus)
  • Hummingbird Sage (Salvia spathacea)
  • California Goldenrod (Solidago californica)
  • Ithuriel's Spear (Tritelia spp.)

Updated: March 22, 2022