Earth Day Done the Celebrate Los Osos Way

Written by Theresa-Marie Wilson

Theresa-Maria Wilson has been a journalist covering the North Coast and South County area for over 20 years. She is also the founder of Cat Noir CC and is currently working on a novel.

April 26, 2024

Tanny Koeppel pulling weeds near the tennis courts at the Los Osos Community Park.Photo by Pandora Nash-Karner

At the heart of Earth Day, the message is strong — raise awareness of the need to protect Earth’s natural resources for future generations. Celebrate Los Osos, a community benefit non-profit, put that goal at the forefront of their latest project.

Working with and under the guidance of the San Luis Obispo County Parks and Recreation Department, the nonprofit with a group of 23 volunteers spent about three hours last Saturday at the Los Osos Community Park with a concentration on maintenance and beautification by the tennis courts.

Armed with gloves, shovels, rakes and trowels, volunteers spread wood chips removed dead and woody undergrowth, and removed debris that had collected at the base of dense bushes and shrubs. 

“Volunteers are so important in our parks because the County budget for parks is very restrictive,” CLO President Pandora Nash-Karner told Estero Bay News. “There isn’t enough money to do this kind of basic maintenance, as a result, we have lots of weeds.”

Those weeds had to be removed before the mulch could be put down, which deters new growth without the use of pesticides. The mulch for the project came from a tree that had to be removed.

“It’s kind of a nice full circle,” said Nash-Karner. 

The project is a win-win in a world where even lower priced projects are tabled.  

“That is the best part, Nash-Karner said. “We are providing volunteer assistance for something that would have to be paid for by the County. With volunteers it will get done months earlier at no cost to the County.”

Nash-Karner, who serves as a county parks commissioner, said that parks are an important part of keeping a community healthy and happy, but they need maintenance to keep up with those goals. 

“They can only deal with it, if they have staff,” she said. “Over the course of the last 30 years we’ve only had one new ranger hired in the entire county parks system. We have over a million more users. With COVID, we have people out and we have less staff time than we had before.”

Jamie Wallace, of Visit Los Osos and project volunteer, echoed the lack of funding for work that needs to be maintained. 

“Parks are underfunded,” Wallace said. “They need help, and this is what this project is about. Los Osos comes together; we really do. This is what we can do on a small level. It’s good for the locals and for our visitors too.”

The all-volunteer Celebrate Los Osos began in January 2008 with the motto “making a difference, one project at a time.” Since then, they have continued to work on improvement projects of public spaces in Los Osos and Baywood Park to stimulate community pride by working together while leaving a legacy for all to enjoy.

To volunteer for future opportunities, sign up with Ellie at

Recent projects include the refurbishing and repair of “Udderly Osa” the Cow-Bear in Baywood. Plans are in the works to refurbish both bridge bears and the South Bay “Welcome to Los Osos Baywood” sign. 

“We are still fundraising for new chairs at the Red Barn,” said Nash-Karner. “Last year we bought new banquet tables for the space. Other projects include an interpretative sign at the Red Barn and potentially a Baywood beautification project.”

There is an ongoing fundraiser to support repairs and upkeep on the median located on Los Osos Valley Road by Ralph’s grocery store. The area required a major overhaul after an alleged drunk driver drove through it. Plants, waterlines and more were replaced, but the area needs regular upkeep and money to pay for water in the drought resistant, street oasis.  

“Our September fundraiser went a long way to pay for these, but we still need money for on-going maintenance of existing projects, new projects and the water bill at the median,” said Nash-Karner. “The County requires us to provide a licensed and insured professional landscape company to maintain the median, and those fees must be paid monthly.”

To make monetary donations, go to and hit the “Donate” button.

Earth Day 

The first Earth Day was held April 22, 1970. Environmental activism during the 1960s inspired Wisconsin Sen. Gaylord Nelson to create a national celebration uniting the environmental movement, states the website. With the help of Denis Hayes, a graduate student at Harvard University, Nelson organized the first Earth Day educating participants in the importance of environmental conservation. Attended by 20 million people across the United States, the event strengthened support for legislation such as the Clean Air Act (updated in 1970) and the Endangered Species Act (1973).

In 1990, Hayes organized a global Earth Day, with more than 200 million participants in more than 140 countries. Earth Day now brings together citizens and activists from around the world to raise awareness and take action regarding such environmental concerns as global warming and renewable energy.

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