What Happens Downstream Matters
Jane Mio continues her work on the Estuary Re-Vegetation Project Site with her teams of local Volunteers.
Saturday, August 20, 2022
Location: South of Laurel St/Broadway bridge above the Mike Fox Skateboard meadow
Volunteers: 9 members of the Youth Group of the Salinas Compass Church, 3 residents, 3 Downtown Street Team members
Total Volunteer Hours: 31
In late August, Jane Mio met with 15 new and seasoned Estuary Project Volunteers at the Mike Fox Skateboard meadow to continue working on restoring the banks of the San Lorenzo River. Clocking in 31 total hours of work, the tasks ranged from picking up litter, pruning out the deadwood, and focusing on protecting the roots of all plantings. Jane can connect with many County-wide volunteer groups but also has a dedicated and steady group of Downtown Street Team Volunteers.
It may seem that what occurs downstream, in Santa Cruz, may not matter to the San Lorenzo Valley or anywhere else. Still, the lessons we pick up from Jane very much relate to our responsibilities to the river upstream, beginning in our own yards and communities!
One of the ongoing issues for us all is maintaining the health of our soil. The plantings we make or remove can aid in that. When removing invasives, or any plantings, the soil should not be left bare. Bare soil is easily overheated, killing existing microorganisms and resulting in sterilization of the very substance we must have to provide life to our ecosystem.
Mulch, then, becomes a vital element in our soils. If we look at our forest environments, we see natural mulches. They act to shade, cool, and support the soil, microorganisms, fungi, and small animals. This type of mulching should be replicated anywhere.
Ground Squirrels, Rabbits, and Gophers, Oh My!
Another vital element of soil care to be addressed by Jane and her volunteers is erosion. While there are many causes of erosion, ground burrowing animals (ground squirrels, rabbits, gophers) may contribute to erosion but also immediately act to expose both the newly disrupted soil and bared plant roots to heat exposure. Additionally, a small area of intrusion from one of these animals or another cause may lead to significant disruption during our winter rains. These holes and other disruptions must be backfilled, tamped down, and supported to protect root plants and restabilize the soil. Be sure to check that berms/walls around your plantings are adequate in height/width for the amount of water you apply and that burrowing animals have not compromised them.
The San Lorenzo Valley Native Habitat Restoration Program integrates environmental and community needs to restore the riparian habitat and ensure the ongoing health and beauty of the watershed.