park butterflies
Photo identification clockwise top left: Norma Brandel Gibbs; Huntington Beach Mayor Debbie Cook and Huntington Beach Tree Society founder Jean Nagy; 3 year-old volunteer waters plants; Huntington Beach city staff and student volunteers plant trees.

Huntington Beach California Arbor Day Tree Planting Ceremony

Huntington Beach Arbor Day Tree Planting at Norma Brandel Gibbs Park Sims Grove is One More Step Towards Creating a Friendly Habitat for Migrating Monarch Butterflies

Story, photos & video submitted by: Chris MacDonald

Huntington Beach, Calif.―Over 100 community volunteers, civic leaders and City of Huntington Beach employees donated a Saturday to plant trees in the Norma Brandel Gibbs park in honor of national Arbor Day.  Under the direction of the Huntington Beach Tree Society, the needed trees helped replace hundreds destroyed by the Australian tortoise beetle. The Arbor Day planting was one of several recent efforts to replenish the forest and make it once again inhabitable for migrating Monarch butterflies. The effort included planting 800 butterfly plants and 55 trees in honor of Arbor Day. Huntington Beach Tree Society has planted more than 4500 trees in the city. Visit hbtrees.org, for more information about Huntington Beach Tree Society.

If you notice a transformation of the Norma Brandel Gibbs Park Butterfly Grove, you can thank Leslie Gilson, for one. The Huntington Beach resident who frequents the park on Graham Street across from Meadowlark Golf Course, observed that many trees were dead or dying. She researched the migrations of Monarch butterflies seen less and less in the grove, took photos of the decaying forest and made storyboards that she presented at a Huntington Beach City Council meeting showing the problem, and calling for a plan of action. So moved  were public officials that they ordered immediate removal of the dead or dying trees (destroyed by beetles). The non-profit Huntington Beach Tree Society helped create a strategy for replanting the grove so that it may once again provide a welcoming atmosphere for butterflies.

  Leslie Gilson, Huntington Beach, CA  

Known as Sims Grove, the parcel of land was once slated for development..  Brandel Gibbs saved the land for future generations to enjoy. Once a stand-alone park, the grove was connected to a newly-formed park named after Gibbs, a former Huntington Beach mayor. The goal for the grove, which is a portion of the Normal Brandel Gibbs Park, is to return it to a successful habitat for migrating butterflies as it once was.

Attending the Arbor Day Ceromony at the Norma Brandel Gibbs Park were: Jean Nagy, president of Huntington Beach Tree Society; Mayor Debbie Cook; Council Member Joe Carchio; Public Works Director Randy Menzel, Huntington Beach Parks & Landscape; Norma Brandel Gibbs; daughter Norma Jean Gibbs; Scout Troop 227 St. Bonaventure; Scout leader  Darrell Rivers (also VP of Huntington Beach Historical Society); City Historian Jerry Person; Huntington Beach Chamber of Commerce Women of Action representative Elaine Craft; and over 100 volunteers comprised of neighbors and community organizations.

Sponsors included: City of Huntington Beach, Huntington Beach Tree Society, Leslie Gilson, United States Department of Fish & Game, Era Energy, LLC; Southern California Edison, West Coast Arborists, Cycle Giant/Wingstuff; EMS Development Company, Carroll's Paint & Flooring

Elaine Craft, Women of Action, HB Chamber of Commerce read a poem she wrote:

Earth Arbor Day Celebration at Butterfly Park

A flurry now of royal wings upon the sun does shine
The Western Monarch comes again upon these trees to dine

The blue gum Eucalyptus grows here to host these ones
Each year brings back a splash of wings in gold and amber brown

We plant more trees with joy in heart to grow within this space
To shade the lovely plantings that thrive within Gibbs Park

Our butterflies will surely dine upon the plants grown here
And then of course they will return to bring us joy each year




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