Meet the Friends of Balboa Park

Posted: January 1st, 2016 | Columnists, Featured, Growing Balboa Park | No Comments

By Ann Wilson | Growing Balboa Park

The Friends of Balboa Park was founded in 1998 by a group of long-time park supporters. Since then, the Friends have raised over $4 million to repair, improve and enhance our beloved Balboa Park.

We are pleased that Balboa Park was recently named as one of the six “Great Public Spaces in the U.S.” by the American Planning Association. It certainly deserves this recognition. Nevertheless, there is still much work to be done to maintain and enhance the park. The Friends are hard at work on projects that do just that.

Our mission is to preserve Balboa Park’s legacy for future generations. We focus on the park’s flora and fauna: trees, gardens, other plantings and native birds and animals. We also seek to preserve and enhance the open space of the park through improved irrigation, more use of native and drought tolerant plants, and the preservation of habitat for local birds, butterflies, and other species.

We accomplish our goals through events and programs that help to education the public — particularly school children — such as annual Arbor Day celebrations, annual butterfly releases in Zoro Garden, the 5th Grade Heritage Program and our Adopt-A-Plot program.

Friends of Balboa Park is the only park support group focused on addressing the needs of the park land and the plants and animals that live within it. We are all aware of the current drought conditions in Southern California and the changing weather patterns across the globe. These changes have large impacts on the ability of our flora and fauna to survive and thrive.

As a result, the Friends have been focusing our efforts on water sustainability in the park for the last five years. We are leading the effort to conserve water in its outdoor spaces, while still keeping the park green, beautiful and attractive to visitors.

Driving through the park recently along Park Boulevard, you may have noticed the re-landscaping of the boulevard’s meridian. New, more efficient irrigation has been installed and more drought-tolerant, native plants have been planted. As the plants grow to maturity, these gardens in the meridian will become very beautiful, while at the same time, conserving water.

In addition to our water sustainability projects, the Friends have also been busy refurbishing some of the park structures. This year, we completed a much-needed project to replace the balustrades behind the El Cid statue in Plaza de Panama.

We are also working on the Sefton Plaza Gate Houses and expect to have them completed early in 2016. We have additional projects on the drawing board that will begin next year.

Please watch this column to learn more about the Friends’ projects and events in the coming months. Please visit our website,, to find out more about us and how you can get involved.


—Ann Wilson is a native San Diegan and has been a board member of the Friends of Balboa Park since 2009. She can be reached through their office at 619-222-2282 or

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