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  Shipley Nature Center 
shipley nature center
Pictured above are Huntington Central Park, scenes from Shipley Nature Center and the Shipley Nature Center committee

Donald D. Shipley Nature Center in Central Park is an 18-acre forest. It consists of a variety of habitats frequented by birds and native wildlife such as raccoons, snakes, turtles, opossums and coyotes. For over 25 years, it has been the wild and natural area where bunnies gingerly bite on tall grass stems, turtles crawl through hidden ponds and huge spiders hang from trees.

 "We sleepwalk through our environment. Most of us are totally unaware of how little of our natural environment now remains in coastal Southern California. I submit that man may need some natural areas in his human environment much more than does our depleted wildlife." -Donald Shipley

In two short years, the contributions of individuals who have taken the Center under their wings with restoration and searches for funding was met with tremendous success. Native plants have replaced non-native growth and markers have been installed for plant identification. Efforts are underway to finish the planting and meet State of California educational guidelines, including handicap access needed to qualify for matching funds for continued restoration and maintenance of Shipley Nature Center. Efforts include the creation of a wheelchair accessible region built as a microcosm representing the entire Shipley Nature Center.

Donald D. Shipley Nature Center was named for a former Huntington Beach mayor who worked as an advocate for natural spaces.  Donald Shipley has passed away but his memory lives in the namesake nature center. Many believe that Shipley would be proud of the efforts to keep the Nature Center open.  On a stone plaque at the entry to the Center, a picture of Donald Shipley and his favorite quote are etched for all to read and ponder: "We sleepwalk through our environment. Most of us are totally unaware of how little of our natural environment now remains in coastal Southern California. I submit that man may need some natural areas in his human environment much more than does our depleted wildlife." -Donald Shipley

Where is the Donald D. Shipley Nature Center'  From the San Diego Freeway (405) exit Golden West Street. Drive west for several miles to Slater. Turn right. At the next stoplight, turn left on Slater. At the stop sign which is a 4-way stop, turn left onto Central Park Drive. Veer slightly left into the parking lot near the tall shade trees. Go left and find the cement, paved trail, following to Nature Center.

Backgrounder on Shipley Nature Center:

Like props for his presentations, former park ranger Dave Winkler used to reach up and let the spiders walk gently onto his hand for presentations he made to thousands of children visiting the Center on educational trips. Winkler worked there for over 25 years, providing entertaining and educational information to people of all ages who wandered into the red brick building that featured displays and a starting point for information and brochures before entering the trails.

By the numbers:  During his service as park naturalist and member of National Association for Interpretation, Winkler estimated that approximately 30,000 people passed through the gates each year until. Of those, he escorted about 9,000 or just under a third on tours. Most frequent international visitors came from Japan and England.

When the City of Huntington Beach faced huge budget shortfalls several years ago, Shipley Nature Center was closed and Ranger Dave was given a different job assignment. Still, the passion for this treasure in the heart of a concrete jungle did not die. Friends of Shipley Nature Center was formed as a nonprofit organization of advocates for open space and natural places.


Huntington Central Park in Huntington Beach, California - Huntington Central Park is a 356-acre park located in the heart of Huntington Beach. Established in 1968, the citizens of Huntington Beach approved a $6 million park bond which helped finance Central Park. Extending across Golden West Street between Slater Avenue and Ellis Street it includes Central Park West and Central Park East. An architectural centerpiece, Central Library and Cultural Center, was designed by the famed father-son Neutra team. Many attractions at Central Park include Huntington Central Park Equestrian Center, H.B. Dog Park, H.B. Disc Golf Course, Huntington Beach Playhouse, Alice's Breakfast in the Park, Park Bench Cafe, Lake Huntington, Central Park Amphitheater, Adventure Playground, Par Course, Shipley Nature Center, playgrounds, picnic tables, BBQ grills and special events throughout the year. Each year Central Park hosts Civil War Re-enactment, Concours d'Elegance, Shakespeare in the Park, athletic events, contests, BB Jazz Concert, and Huntington Beach Concert Band Summer Concerts.

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