Posted inEnvironment

Scores of Volunteers Deftly Plant 1000 Seedlings

The task was for volunteers to help plant 1000 pine seedlings within a 12-hour timeframe.  The result was that scores of eager, committed volunteers got the job done in just under four hours. 

     Greenspace – The Cambria Land Trust achieved this feat last weekend with the guidance of Richard Hawley, Greenspace’s first Executive Director, and the numerous organizational skills of Karin Argano, its new Executive Director.  California State Parks once again asked Greenspace to grow and plant more of the area’s signature trees for an ongoing reforestation effort at Hearst San Simeon State Park just north of Cambria.  Around town, folks grew the seedlings at home using seeds from healthy Monterey pine trees and, among the cultivators, stalwart grower Jason Anderson outdid himself.

     According to Argano, the volunteer planters were “numerous and diverse, from seasoned volunteers to “it’s the first time I ever planted a tree!”  Both the kids and adults were excited to return and see the maturing forest, knowing that they planted those trees.  Brian Morgan of Friends of the Fiscalini Ranch Preserve brought volunteers.  This was “a huge help and we love the collaboration with this other eco-org in Cambria,” Argano said.  Other groups that were involved in the planting came from local churches, high school students from Arroyo Grande and Cambria, and students from Cuesta College brought by Jennifer Schriber, who teaches plant science there.

     Young trees planted by Greenspace supporters in recent years are now highly visible northeast of the Highway 1 and San Simeon Creek Road intersection.  Their 60 percent survival rate was tracked by volunteers from local high schools, Cuesta College, and California Polytechnic State University (CalPoly).  That number is considered satisfactory given that the seedlings are not pampered like a crop but instead released to capitalize on the distinctive microclimate along the coast.

     Reforestation is a key part of Greenspace’s mission, and additional seedlings are being grown throughout the year by volunteers.  In anticipation of future needs, and in conjunction with Earth Day 2023, seeds and growing racks will be available for volunteers to nurture at home.  It is reported that these signature “Pines by the Sea” (Pinus radiata) have grown along the coast for thousands of years. 

Planting Duos  (photo credit: Scott Anderson)
Posted inLocal History

Cambria’s Chinese Temple: Understanding the Historical Perspective

Newly installed signs in town reflect a many-year project to acknowledge and honor the historical Chinese community in Cambria.  The Chinese Temple in the East Village was designated a California Point of Historical Interest in November of 2020.  Its unusual history likely explains why it still exists, one of only five remaining Chinese temples in California from the 19th Century.

     Its exact date of construction is still a mystery, but it might be one of three Chinese structures shown on the 1886 Sanford Insurance Company map for Cambria.  Such maps detailed key insurance-related features of buildings in far-flung communities, making it possible for agents to sell insurance without repeated on-site visits to the town.

     It is known that after most of the Chinese moved elsewhere and the property was sold, the building – no longer a temple – was moved closer to Center Street and attached to an existing house (built 1873) and used as its living room.  At that time, two windows and an exterior door were added.  The former temple was a humble structure with little if anything to suggest a Chinese cultural connection.  In effect, it was hidden in plain sight for decades and effectively saved from tear-down, often the fate of similarly simple buildings.

     When Greenspace–The Cambria Land Trust purchased the 1.67-acre property in 1999, its purpose was to conserve the natural setting along the creek that Cambrians and visitors now enjoy.  But the multi-part was part of the sale, as well.  When Greenspace directors learned of the former temple’s significance in California history and confirmed that it was structurally sound, they committed to restoring it.  Doing so took 12 years and the financial support of countless residents, former residents, and appreciative visitors as well as local and regional foundations.

     Preparing the application for recognition by the State Office of Historic Preservation was itself a challenge.  Greenspace had hoped it would qualify as a California Historical Landmark but found the California Point of Historical Interest designation was a more achievable honor.  The quest for designation was aided ably by Rincon Consultants and a grant from the Hind Foundation of San Luis Obispo.

     As a reward for seeking out the newly designated Point of Historical Interest and following the new California Department of Transportation road signs, visitors will find interpretive signage at the site.