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Ziplining in botanical garden’s future

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By Erin Gabel

Photo editor

San Luis Obispo Botanical Garden, an integral resource for Cuesta’s botany, ecology and environmental science classes, is in the process of gaining the approval to build a zipline.

The garden, located across from the south entrance of Cuesta College in El Chorro Park, is seeking authorization for the zipline to add an interactive element to the 150-acre preserve.

Garden founder Eve Vigil said she believes the addition will be a great fundraising arm for the garden and will bring in a broader range of visitors.

“We feel the zipline is a very compatible concept, because it provides an eagle-eye view of the garden,” Vigil said. “ It also brings in a wider audience because it offers more to do than just looking at the plants.”

The San Luis Obispo County Board of Supervisors met Oct. 4 to discuss whether the nonprofit foundation, Friends of the San Luis Obispo Botanical Gardens, would be allowed to ask permission of the Department of Interior (DI) to add ziplining as an activity for the garden. The board approved the decision and has asked for a master plan pending approval from the DI.

If the DI allows the garden to build the structure, garden officials will submit a detailed plan by June. If approved at this level, the board of supervisors will review the plan and allow the nonprofit to move forward. This plan will allow the garden to become self-sufficient and bring in more revenue.

“I think a zipline would be a great addition to the botanical gardens,” said David Brown, 2nd year business major, “ I like activities like ziplining, and think I would like doing it in a beautiful location.”

In the meantime, the garden continues to serve as a resource for botany, ecology and environmental science classes at Cuesta.

“Students learn about drought tolerant plants, what plants are suited for growing in gardens in this climate, and water use efficiency,” said Dr. John Veres, who takes students on field trips to the garden in his Plants and People and General Botany classes at Cuesta.

If the board approves the addition of the zipline, it is anticipated that it will be open to the public within two years, according to Vigil.

“Both, educationally and recreationally, this is a wonderful place to be,” Vigil said. “And pending permission and design decisions, we should be zipping down that mountain within two years.”