Building Community, Plant by Plant

What Happens Downstream Matters

Jane Mio continues her work on the Estuary Re-Vegetation Project Site with her teams of local Volunteers.

Saturday, October 15, 2022
Location: Mike Fox site by Riverside Ave. Bridge
10 Volunteers: 6 residents, 4 Downtown Street Team members

Total Volunteer Hours: 20

Volunteers at the Estuary Project
Volunteers: Robin, Jane, Marky, Robert, Tina, Sam, John, August, and Ivan

On October 15, Jane and a team of 10 volunteers met at Mike Fox park near the Riverside Avenue Bridge to continue their work on restoring the San Lorenzo River Estuary. Many volunteers might be considered ‘regulars’; however, many are curious members of various groups throughout Santa Cruz County (schools, civic organizations, etc.) interested in the work being conducted.

John is checking out Gum plant seeds

When discussing this Estuary project as one of restoration, it is also one of building community. The Estuary project supports, nourishes, and expands associations within the plant and animal communities of the River, but also of interested individuals seeking a greater connection with the land and others working on this project. These individuals then bring what they’ve learned and observed to the communities in which they live, sharing new knowledge, interests, and camaraderie. Their new deeper appreciation of this ecologically important and fragile resource that defines our Valley expands our community outside the confines of the Valley.

Community allows us to care for and connect with our neighbors, share new ideas and resources, share the joys of successes, and provide support in times of need. Community is enriched and expanded when we work on a new or continuing goal. Whether it be a small project in our neighborhood, volunteering at the Redwood Mountain Faire, working with Jane on the Estuary Project, participating in the Annual River & Road Clean Up, helping at the local library, baking for a local fundraiser, the possibilities of building community are endless.

The importance of this connectedness is essential to our well-being, which directly translates into the health of our communities at large. This community empowers the Valley Women’s Club through numerous volunteer opportunities. We look forward to meeting and working with you in one or many in the future!

Join the Restoration Revolution!

If you’d like to volunteer at the San Lorenzo River Estuary Project, send us a message in the form below.

A Sticky Situation

One of the tasks tended to this day was the harvest and spread of gum plant (Grindelia stricta var. platyphylla) seeds. These beautiful sticky natives, members of the sunflower family, appear unkempt this late in the season. However, when in full glory of their seasonal bloom are a showy sunflower yellow and, during their entire life cycle, provide a bounty of opportunities to the community of animals that live along the River. They exude a sticky ‘gum,’ which protects from UV rays and hungry herbivores while providing nectar to beetles, butterflies and insects. The seed stalks provide food for many songbirds.

Gum Plant
The gum plant noted here is suitable for sandy areas. For those who live in wooded areas of the SLV, a gum more suited to those growing conditions and soil would be the Grindelia camporum. Photo by Dawn Endico from Menlo Park, California, CC BY-SA 2.0, via Wikimedia Commons
Non-native Gulf Fritillary feeding on Gum plant
Non-native Gulf Fritillary feeding on Gum plant
Gum plant before seed harvesting
Gangly gum plants ready for October’s seed harvest

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.

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