Preserving the Park



As visitors walk through Crystal Cove State Park, what they might not know is that there’s a team of people dedicated to protecting and preserving the natural resources surrounding them. Environmental Scientist Lana Nguyen, with the California State Parks Orange Coast District, is one of those individuals—she serves as program manager for the six parks in her district and oversees resource enhancement and restoration projects. She holds a multifaceted position, in which she also manages sensitive species in the Park, serves as trail coordinator, conducts research with universities, and acts as liaison for outside groups and agencies.

Much of her work enhances the overall visitor experience: “We work hard to erase the effects of sheep and cattle grazing, horse stables and old roads, and agriculture in the park,” she says. “We work to restore ecosystem functions that have been lost due to these anthropomorphic impacts, usually starting with the soils and plants.”

Bringing in native plants is also in her scope of responsibilities, which will help draw insects and birds. “Native landscapes are much more beautiful to look at than hillsides of dead mustard and artichoke thistle, and draw in native animals, which can give the visitor an experience they might not otherwise have: a rare bird sighting, the glimpse of a bobcat on a trail, et cetera,” Lana adds.

There’s much she enjoys about her job, but it all comes back to the incredible environment Crystal Cove provides. “I love working outdoors and working to restore degraded landscapes, creating a more beautiful experience for park users and providing better quality habitat for the local flora and fauna,” she says. “The State Parks’ mission … rings very true for me in my day to day work.”

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