Return of the Natives heads to Marina Dunes

Return of the Natives hosted another planting event on Saturday, Feb. 12. This time, the organization headed to the Marina Dunes to plant different species native to the area.

Christina McKnew is the restoration and greenhouse manager for Return of the Natives. She explained for this event they were planting quite a few different species. For the event, they were planting sand aster, beach primrose, deerweed, beach sagewort, coast buckwheat and some beach burr, and lizard’s tail.

McKnew explained Return of the Natives has been around since 1995, and she joined the organization in 2000 as the greenhouse manager. They have been working with California State University, Monterey Bay (CSUMB) since the beginning.

While Return of the Natives works closely with CSUMB, their events are also open to the general public. Third-year CSUMB student Olivia Equinoa started volunteering for the organization during Fall 2019. “I was just a volunteer and I did service learning with them in the spring and now I work for them as a staff member.”

This is currently the busier season for Return of the Natives planting events. Right now, they have events almost weekly. McKnew said they try to do the bulk of their planting events when there’s the most rain, usually going from late November through to March.

However they continue to hold events during the off-season as well. When they aren’t hosting planting events, Return of the Natives hosts clean-up events roughly once a month.

Equinoa became involved with environmental science during her junior year of high school, after learning about environmental policy. “I thought, ‘Oh that seems like a good route to take’ because I wasn’t sure what major to pursue in college and that kind of inspired me to be like oh that could be a good career path.”

Even though Return of the Natives was relevant to Equioa’s major and interest, it is important for everyone to learn about these issues and get involved. 

McKnew went into detail on the importance of replanting events like the ones put on by Return of the Natives. “There’s a huge need for habitat restoration in our area. At one time, they allowed dune buggies and stuff to ride around here. That was decades ago but it takes a long time to be able to restore these habitats … It’s a very large area so it’s a process that takes years and years.” 

Projects and organizations like Return of the Natives provide both CSUMB students and the general public around the area to form a sense of community as well. 

“I feel like another important aspect to it is the community aspect and bringing people and the community out to local natural areas so they get to see these parts of their backyard they might not otherwise see,” McKnew said. “But also to work together as a community for a common goal … It brings people together, they get to learn together and work together, and enjoy a sense of place. 

Students looking to get involved with the Return of the Natives program can find them on MyRaft, Instagram, Facebook or sign up for their monthly newsletter. Learn more about them at

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