By day, Jonathan Cruz works at a computer in risk management at Southern California Edison, but on a recent Saturday, he was at Crystal Cove State Park in Orange County, armed with a paint brush and ready to apply his skills to a picket fence.
Cruz was among 82 SCE workers who turned out for the California State Parks Foundation’s 18th annual Earth Day restoration and cleanup at Crystal Cove. This year’s projects were aimed at the park’s historic district, which dates back to the 1920s, and the beach.
“I try to do volunteer work and give back to the community whenever I can,” said Cruz, who was joined by his wife, Poloi Lin, also an SCE employee. “It’s great to lend a hand because they are so short-handed.”
Besides painting the picket fence and a nearby bridge, the volunteers planted 286 native plants and 200 cactus plants, pulled up 70 bags of invasive non-native plants and cleaned up 100 bags of trash at the beach.
About 40 other SCE volunteers were at Chino Hills State Park helping build two retaining walls, pulling out non-native plants and sanding and sealing wooden benches at the park amphitheater.
Ten SCE workers volunteered at Carpinteria State Beach, planting seven native trees and 150 native plants and removing 50 cubic yards of non-native plants
In addition to the volunteer help, Edison International, parent company of SCE, contributed $30,000 to the California State Parks Foundation for this year’s projects. The company has sponsored Earth Day events since 2006.
“We live and work in these communities and want to give back,” said Tammy Tumbling, SCE’s director of Philanthropy and Community Investment. “Preserving our environment is important to all of us and what better way to give back than to participate in Earth Day.”
Erika Pringsheim-Moore, director of the Earth Day Program for the California State Parks Foundation, said 27 state parks throughout California had projects this year. She said the volunteers and sponsors provided funds and manpower for improvement projects that otherwise might not get done.
“The response we get from the parks is they are just overwhelmed with appreciation,” said Pringsheim-Moore, noting the parks face a $1.3 billion budget shortfall for maintenance.
Earth Day officially is April 22 this year. The event began in 1970 and is widely viewed as the birth of the environmental movement. Every year, events are held to emphasize the importance of being good stewards of the environment.