PCF Grant Supports Environmental Stewardship at Eaton Canyon

A group of people walk along a path in an outdoor natural area. Mountains are in the background, and in the foreground is a sign that reads Eaton Canyon Trail.

Eaton Canyon is a natural area in northeast Pasadena that holds an incredible array of plant and wildlife biodiversity inside its nearly 200 acres. Visitors can enjoy its myriad hiking trails, equestrian trails with a staging area, picnic areas, a seasonal stream, natural habitats, native plants, and wildlife. A 2024 PCF Animal Welfare Grant will fund vital program elements that help the Eaton Canyon Nature Center Associates (ECNCA) create meaningful and safe experiences for growing numbers of visitors and expand their sense of environmental stewardship.

Welcoming a Half Million Visitors Each Year

As one of the most accessible natural parks in LA County, Eaton Canyon welcomes more than a half-million visitors annually – its annual visitorship jumped 41% between 2022 and 2023. The small but mighty staff and large volunteer corps of the ECNCA must oversee visitor activities and ecosystem management throughout the park in a way that simultaneously engages the community in stewardship while also protecting the canyon’s plants and wildlife. Newcomers with limited outdoor knowledge pose challenges at Eaton Canyon because they may inadvertently harm the environment, face safety risks, strain park resources, create negative interactions, and miss educational opportunities.

Eaton Canyon at dusk, Feb 2024
Eaton Canyon at dusk, Feb 2024

Eaton Canyon at dusk, Feb 2024

Eaton Canyon at dusk, Feb 2024

Pasadena Audubon Society leads numerous bird walks in Eaton Canyon.
Pasadena Audubon Society leads numerous bird walks in Eaton Canyon.

Pasadena Audubon Society leads numerous bird walks in Eaton Canyon.

Pasadena Audubon Society leads numerous bird walks in Eaton Canyon.

Inside the Eaton Canyon Nature Center.

Inside the Eaton Canyon Nature Center.

PCF's funding will be used in part to upgrade park signage.

PCF's funding will be used in part to upgrade park signage.

Inside the Eaton Canyon Nature Center.

Inside the Eaton Canyon Nature Center.

Inside the Eaton Canyon Nature Center.

Inside the Eaton Canyon Nature Center.

ECNCA received one of PCF’s Animal Welfare Grants this spring to purchase trail cameras, bear-proof trash cans, and new signage. “So many of our visitors are first timers to our area,” notes LA County Natural Areas Biologist Cristhian Mace. “So for them, and for those who return regularly, every single aspect of our program is related to promoting environmental stewardship and community engagement. Our work promoting wildlife corridors and biodiversity helps visitors connect the dots and understand how their presence impacts our wildlife and plant life.”

ECNCA relies on core partners to supplement its own programming. Partners include the Pasadena Audubon Society, Sierra Club Pasadena, and Explore Earth. These organizations use their own volunteers and staff to help run the programs or events. Numerous school districts also send students in grades second through sixth to visit the area, including Pasadena Unified, Glendale, Mountain View, El Monte, and San Gabriel. ECNCA also supports the activities in and around the Nature Center, which houses dioramas, live animals like lizards and snakes, classrooms, an auditorium and a gift shop.

160 different kinds of birds live in, visit, or migrate through Eaton Canyon. The Pasadena Audubon Society schedules regular bird walks through the canyon. Here, an Audubon takes an evening bird walk, February 2024.