The Pogonip is a beautiful city greenbelt located in Santa Cruz, California, on the eastern edge of the University of California Santa Cruz (UCSC) campus. It contains a variety of plant and animal communities, or habitats, that have been shaped greatly by human impact over the years. Up until the purchase of the land in 1988 by the City of Santa Cruz, the Pogonip had been used for many different things, including a golf club, a polo club, residential estates, and a campground.
There are many natural wonders to be discovered within the Pogonip: Tiny animals, flowers and fungi to look at closely, and predators and vistas to admire from afar. The Pogonip is well worth a visit and, if you go, there is a new publication titled A Field Guide to the Communities of Pogonip. I created this guide as part of my senior project requirement to graduate from UCSC as an Environmental Studies major.
Shortly after moving to Santa Cruz to be a student, I found the Pogonip and immediately loved exploring its trails and learning about the plant and animals that live there. The field guide is the combination of my love for natural history, illustration, and the Pogonip. My hope is that the science and art will inform, inspire, and help you make a personal connection to the natural inhabitants and ecosystems in this diverse greenbelt. The guide represents many months of planning, researching, grant proposal writing, illustrating, and a huge amount of help from the Ken Norris Center for Natural History.
What’s in the Guide
The guide contains mural-style illustrations of the plant and animal species within each of the four main habitats of the Pogonip: Redwood Forest, Meadows, Mixed Evergreen Forest, and the Riparian communities.
Written stories and information within each mural encourage interaction with the surrounding ecosystem. You will discover the life story of the common Buckeye butterfly, a friendly meadow dweller, such as this example of the text from the Meadows community section:
“The life of a Buckeye begins as a tiny egg laid on a leaf of its host plant. Can you find it’s caterpillar in this drawing? (Hint: Look in a corner.) As a caterpillar, it eats and sheds its outer cuticle when it outgrows its skin. Eventually, it finds a spot to hang and form a chrysalis (see upper right). Within the chrysalis, the Buckeye transforms from a pea soup-like liquid into an adult butterfly. Once emerged, the adult pumps liquid into its wings. They harden in the sun and are flight ready! The common Buckeye is often seen fluttering low to the ground. Watch the adults suck up nectar from flowers with their proboscis.”
Similar illustrated entries cover the brown creeper, a secretive bird that lives among the redwoods; the Douglas iris, which grows within the Riparian community; and the slender salamander that lives in the Mixed Evergreen Forest.
The guide also includes a map that shows the locations of hiking trails and each habitat within the Pogonip. In case you get confused about exactly which habitat you are in, there is also a learning guide that helps you locate yourself within a specific habitat.
A Field Guide to the Communities of Pogonip, is available as a pamphlet that contains illustrations with written details and stories that can inform both children and adults. It’s available at both the Golf Club Drive and Spring Street entrances to Pogonip. You can also view the field guide online and download a pdf version.
- A Field Guide to the Communities of Pogonip, by Kylie Smith. Self-published, 2016.
- Pogonip: The Cowell Family, Polo, and a Poltergeist, part of the UCSC Natural History Tour. Mobile Ranger website.
- Pogonip: Lime Kilns, Secret Notes, and Questionable Koi, part of the UCSC Natural History Tour. Mobile Ranger website.