Restoration requires challenging decisions
On February 6th, students from Skyline HS joined the Skyline High School EarthTeam and Friends of Sausal Creek to remove Coyote Bush from the wetland above Fern Ravine Creek. To advertise the workday, EarthTeam interns practiced their “elevator pitches” and rehearsed what they would say to their peers about the event, and why they should attend. Using a list of do’s and don’t(s) from the Antioch HS EarthTeam, Skyline HS interns practiced projecting their voice, using visuals, and making eye contact with the audience.
Come Saturday, their efforts were rewarded with the presence of 11 of their classmates from Skyline HS, joined by 3 fellow interns from Alameda HS, making the total group a potent 21 students. Michelle Krieg, field coordinator from Friends of Sausal Creek, introduced the restoration activities underway at Fern Ravine, and described the project students would be undertaking that day. To our surprise, we would be removing a native, Coyote Brush Baccharis pilularis, from the wetland. Michelle described the importance of the rare wetland habitat in the Oakland hills, and how the presence of the Coyote Brush was an indication of ecological succession, the changing of species in an ecological community over time. While Coyote Brush was widespread through the Oakland hills, the wetland plants it was succeeding were not, and so the difficult choice was made to remove the Coyote Brush to maintain the wetland plant community so uncommon in the area.
Using hacksaws and loppers, our students made quick work of the Coyote Brush, working in teams to heave the large root balls from the soil. Before removing the Coyote Brush, students checked for evidence of early nesting birds, which they wouldn’t want to disturb. Another species they tried not to disrupt was the convergent ladybug which had gathered in the thousands to overwinter while their food sources were hard to find.
Overall our interns were happy with the amount of students who came out and are excited to recruit for their next event at Palos Colorados trailhead. Details for that event can be found here: https://www.eventbrite.com/e/restoration-gardening-at-palos-colorados-tickets-21785619374