Hi everyone. Welcome back to the blogosphere!
This past week I got the chance to be outside and help plant, weed, and weed some more. My first trip of the great spring planting and weeding extravaganza was to the Tijuana Slough NWR to help with some habitat restoration. The day started off with loading up all the plants, tools and gear to be used later in the day in Imperial Beach for an event with Outdoor Outreach. Outdoor Outreach is an organization that connects youth to the power of the outdoors through a multitude of activities (read more about them here: http://www.outdooroutreach.org/).
The Outdoor Outreach kids, a group from Lincoln High School, really helped out to do a quality job of putting our target plants into place. Along with other marsh plants and grasses to be planted along the Otay River, the main plant of the day was Juncus. This species of Juncus can get pretty tall and can provide a natural barrier to keep people out of the river, but it also can pack a punch. The ends of Juncus acutus are really sharp and pointy and can even draw blood if you’re not careful. I also recommend wearing glasses or protective goggles when planting this particular species because they have been known to go for the eyes, which I can only imagine is a painful experience.
Overall, we managed to get over 40 plants in the ground, which makes for a very successful afternoon of habitat restoration! Hopefully, all of these plants will successfully take to their new homes and we can see their progress as they grow and provide habitat for all the animals that call South San Diego Bay home.
All the fun of habitat restoration and planting native plants at the South Bay unit of the Refuge also comes the task of keeping the place free of weeds. On this particular day, I was down at the Bayside Birding and Walking trail in Imperial Beach to remove Stinging Nettle, Ice Plant and a variety of other weeds that I can’t remember the names of, but I know what they look like! One of the weeds is similar to the Western Sunflower, in that when flowering it possesses a yellow flower. Therefore, it is important to look at the leaves; where the native sunflower has ovate leaves, the weed has pretty lobed leaves. This is a key distinction when weeding to ensure you’re not removing any native plants. In another topic regarding weeds, in San Diego we are so used to seeing Ice Plant used as garden cover because they aren’t bad to look at and require little to no upkeep. However, it is important to remember that these plants are non-native, and if you are in need of ground cover there are plenty of native plants that can do the job, like Yarrow. Rocks also work great because they don’t require any upkeep. On another note, I officially start surveying next week, so I’m very excited to reunite with one of my favorite shorebirds, the Snowy Plover!
See everyone next week!