Back to Natives Restoring Southern California Wildlands

Southern California is not usually thought of as a hotbed of eco-restoration. Yet a nonprofit in Irvine, California, has discovered how to educate the public about restoration and pay its own way by providing landscape design services.

From the Back to Natives (BTN) website:

Back To NativesRESTORATION is dedicated to the restoration and conservation of Orange County and California wildlands, through education and restoration programs featuring native plants as a centralizing theme. BTN promotes native plants, as well as habitat restoration and preservation by providing service learning and volunteer based habitat restoration programs.

I heard of Back to Natives through Art Plantae, a website devoted to “connecting artists, naturalists, and educators.” It featured a Southern California illustrator who wanted to get rid of her thatch-infested lawn. She got the idea of replacing it with a native landscape during a Back to Natives workshop in a friend’s home. In a nice example of “closing the loop,” Back to Natives redesigned her yard and held a workshop there in which volunteers learned basic restoration concepts and then replanted her yard.

Now she has a yard that provide habitat for birds, butterflies, and other insects and also includes all the native plants she loves to draw.

Is this a restoration company?

Technically, it’s a 501(c)(3) that has a business on the side to support its educational efforts. It’s not a corporation, but it seems like a model that would be easy to replicate, since landscape design services are always needed.

Source: “Restoration Project Creates Waterwise Landscape and an Artist’s Playground,” Art Plantae Today, April 13, 2010