New plant life was added Wednesday to the once vacant land along the Kern River Parkway when volunteers planted more than 3,000 trees and shrubs.

The Panorama Vista Preserve's land, consisting of more than 936 acres, was created to preserve the area's natural resources and offer educational, recreational and research opportunities.

Prior to the tree planting Wednesday, an additional $30,000 was donated in support of the project by the Pacific Gas and Electric Co. in partnership with the National Fish and Wildlife Foundation.

The latest tree planting was part of the second phase of the preserve's development. The first phase involved the planting of 6,000 trees on 30 acres of the preserve. The second phase will involve planting 27,000 trees on 136 acres of the land.

"Piece by piece, it comes together as we transform it from something barren to something great," said Claire Thorp, assistant director of the western partnership office for the NFWF. "It has great recreation and education projects and brings the community together too."

The new trees and shrubs included valley oak, quail bush, arrowweed, cottonwood, big saltbush, willow and sycamores.

Those plants are watered using a drip irrigation system with groundwater from two wells, said Julie Rentner, regional director for River Partners. The irrigation process uses about 2 acre feet of water per acre per year. The water then percolates into the soil.

The preserve encompasses land on both sides of the Kern River and extends from Gordon's Ferry at China Grade Loop and from Panorama Park to the Beardsley Canal.

The Panorama Vista Preserve's riparian forest was originally destroyed by the oil industry and the construction of the Lake Isabella Dam, according to the organization. The preserve is funded through grants and donations from state and local agencies as well as private donors.

It is home to endangered species such as kit foxes and endangered plants such as the Bakersfield cactus.

Kathi Parks, of the preserve's education outreach program, organized nine-day camps for students last year, and they served about 700 sixth graders.

The day camp offered by the Panorama Vista Riparian Restoration and Education Project is free for students, while similar camps are too expensive for some school districts, Parks said.

Volunteers teach the children about the trees, endangered species, bees, Native Americans, insects and a variety of other information on local, natural and geological history.

For more information on the preserve, visit www.panoramavista.org.

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