History of the Project

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