Opened in 1974, the Shipley Nature Center is an 18-acre fenced natural area within Huntington Beach Central Park, CA. Named after former Mayor Donald D. Shipley, the center is owned by the City of Huntington Beach.
After years of neglect, the Nature Center became overrun with invasive, exotic plant species that crowded out more desirable native plants on which local native wildlife depends. Non-native tamarisk and giant reeds depleted the ground water. Dead Monterey pines and giant reeds, were a fire risk and needed to be removed. The Blackbird Pond suffered from lack of oxygen, especially during the summer months.
With donations and grants and both paid and volunteer labor, the Friends of Shipley Nature Center and the City of Huntington Beach spearheaded a complete restoration. Included in the restoration was the removal of invasive, non-native plants, upgrade of the trail system, installed a drip irrigation system to enhance water conservation, and planted 50,000 California native plants. Water feature restoration included the creation of a freshwater stream to provide pond circulation and aeration. The stream will provide a powerful lure for migrating and resident birds. Restoration will greatly enhance habitat value for wildlife and will provide improved opportunities for environmental education.
Today the Center includes 4,000 feet of well-maintained trails that meander through several habitats, including oak woodlands, Torrey pines, meadows, and Blackbird Pond, a natural freshwater wetland with mature willows and sycamores. Within the Nature Center is a 1,500 sq. ft. Interpretive Building with exhibits on local wildlife and ecology.