Fun while weeding

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Weeding on Saturday morning at the nature park was every bit as much fun as I had hoped. Hot? Yes, but not too bad. There was a nice turn out and it was great to see old friends and new. There were a few high school students, a high school teacher, a new volunteer from the “other valley,” and a few old timers who have been excellent park stewards over the years. What a nice way to re-connect with South Pas after being gone for so long.

New volunteer helps bash back the remains of weedy mustard.
Long-term volunteers search out horehound. This perennial weed spreads by seeds that stick to shoelaces,
clothing, dogs and anything else they come in contact with, and so it is good to get them out before they go to
seed. The tall green plants in the foreground are horseweed (Conyza canadensis). Although weedy looking,
these are believed to be native to the area. We will remove them for aesthetic reasons (they are pretty ugly)
after we tackle the non-native weeds.
Two other high school students take aim
at the weeds.

Litter and graffiti were not bad at all. A large shelter built by a homeless person was noticed near the Arroyo. I asked the city to take care of it, though I am very ambivalent about this. I understand that some people are not fortunate enough to have their own homes, however, these structures usually grow and are accompanied by a lot of trash. Furthermore, they detract from the experience of many others who use the park. Otherwise things are looking good. We spent the morning weeding out horehound and bashing back dead mustard.

The following map, created by MRCA (Mountains Recreation and Conservation Authority) when the park was first installed, has been labeled to identify areas in the park. Note the white rectangular area on the right labeled Park Annex. Happily, this one-acre piece of land will now be part of the nature park. This did not come easy and is an example of how important citizen stewardship is for the creation and preservation of  urban habitat.


The plan for this parcel is to remove weeds, and install trails, boulders (for seating and cause they are so pretty) and a retention basin. On a pro-bono basis (yet another example of citizen stewardship), a landscape architect who lives in the city created and presented to City Council a preliminary draft for the project. The nasty-looking chain link fence on the east side of the nature park that surrounded the parcel has been removed. The next step will be to acquire funding for the project.

New land for habitat. Young, volunteer trees including toyon, walnut and oak will one day turn this into a lovely,
shaded woodland, and the trees will protect us from “errant golf balls.”

As I said above, new and “old” volunteers showed up for the park cleanup. One girl, though not old herself, is an old volunteer. She began helping out in the park way back in 2007 (or maybe even before). In the picture below she (on right) is standing in front of a shrub that she planted in February 2007.

Three student volunteers stand in front of a scrub oak. The young woman on the right
helped plant this slow-growing shrub over five years ago.
Girl in the middle preparing to water the newly planted scrub oak (shown above). (February 2007)

If you go to the park, and I hope you do, please remember you are seeing it when many things are dormant. Southern California coastal sage scrub, which much of the park is, is not very green in summer but it is the perfect plant community for our local birds, lizards, and butterflies. While we were at the park I noticed numerous critters scampering over rocks and flitting from tree to shrub. Please let me know if you have any interesting sightings.

To the untrained eye the beauty of coastal sage scrub in summer is often missed. Nevertheless, our local native
plants make the best habitat. Our job is to keep after the weeds so the natives can establish themselves. This will
take years and years but the payoff is big because protecting habitat in urban areas is an important part of
saving the environment.

4 thoughts on “Fun while weeding

  1. WooHoo. Congrats on the annex Barbara et al.!<br />

  2. Mike Letteriello

    Have to make it out your way in the spring, again! Regards!

  3. Thanks Drew and Laura. Hope you can come by some time soon. Park is looking dormant with a whole lot of horseweed. Will cut it down sometime in August probably.<br /><br />Hi Mike. So great to be home. Yes, I&#39;d love to see you – both here in South Pas and at Prisk. By the way, I am hoping to do a planting again this winter in the park. Take care!

  4. This is great!

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