by Julian Meisler
January 19, 2016
It’s raining hard at Sears Point. Over three-quarters of an inch has fallen since midnight and it will keep coming down for the next several hours. Winds are steady out of the southeast. It’s likely to get worse before it gets better. Maybe it’s not a nice day for a hike — but it’s a perfect day for planting.
Three years of construction have left a lot of disturbed and bare ground here. Although much of the nearly 1,000 acres is now under the influence of saltwater and largely safe from weed invasions, some 60 acres of bare ground sit at or higher than the upper limits of the tides. These acreages must be actively planted — if not, we risk large-scale invasion by a variety of non-native plants, including perennial pepperweed, stinkwort, yellow star thistle, New Zealand spinach and ice plant.
Fortunately, we have a plan. We’re using a multi-year approach of native seeding, traditional farming and hand/harvesting/installation to plant the levee. The last part is muddy work, especially this time of year, but someone has to do it. Those people, lately, have been Steve Pye and Vita Rodriguez, part-time stewardship assistants with Sonoma Land Trust. Steve and Vita are harvesting existing populations of vigorous colonizers, such as creeping wild rye and saltgrass, and then planting bits and pieces (plugs and rhizomes) into the levee. We anticipate that these plants will spread rapidly over the coming years and augment what has already been seeded and planted.
If this sounds like fun to you, look for upcoming volunteer opportunities with Sonoma Land Trust. Some days will be spent harvesting — during others, we’ll do some planting. We will also have opportunities to plant in locations accessible only by kayak, open to experienced kayakers with their own boats. Dates are to be determined.
Sonoma Land Trust is a local nonprofit based in Santa Rosa, CA, that conserves scenic, natural, agricultural and open lands in Sonoma County for the benefit of the community and future generations. This blog focuses on SLT's stewardship team, whose members do hands-on work to directly protect, restore, and safeguard the land for generations to come.