Picking and planting

“We need to stop what we’re doing and count butterflies”

Quote of the month, My boss Eric

Alright. My first blog behind the keys. I’ve been here at GGNRA for a little over a month now, and things are great. The other interns here are friendly and my team at work is very welcoming. I’ve mostly been learning the ropes and getting to know the plants.

This is officially my second blog post, but it’s the first one in writing. If you want a full intro, check out post #1. If not, all you need to know is that I’m Ivan Bossert and I’m the Natural Resource Management intern for the GGNRA lands in San Mateo County, which is just south of San Francisco.

The place

Some of the newest additions to the park are in San Mateo County, including the places I do most of my work: Rancho Corral de Tierra and Sweeny Ridge. The land has a ton of biodiversity, so we deal with a few different threatened and endangered species. For more about the park in general, you can go to the GGNRA website. All the work sites I’ve been to so far have had really stunning views of the ocean or San Francisco Bay or both, and even the daily commute is filled with eye candy. My route takes me along scenic Highway 1 and right past a glamorous beachfront Taco Bell, so I can’t complain about the drive.

Planting a line of seeds

The project

One of the main focuses of the Natural Resource team is protecting and restoring native grasslands. Past agricultural use has impacted the grasslands, making them less competitive. This allows other plants to invade and take over, changing the habitat to be less biodiverse and less favorable for threatened and endangered animals that rely on grasslands to survive.

The work

For the most part, I’ve been learning my way around the park and getting the of what I’ll be doing. The basic process for my team is: 1) remove the unwanted plants, 2) put in the good plants, and 3) keep the bad plants from coming back. Different sites are in different stages, and removal is never really finished, so there’s a good variety in what I do day to day.

One of the first things I did was seed collection. I go out in the field and pull seed heads off adult plants (yarrow this time) so that we can either clean the seeds and plant them in the field or give them a head start in a greenhouse before transplanting them later.

After I filled up one of my bags with seeds, I looked closer and saw at least 5 spiders inside it that I had touched with my bare hand! But it was too late to panic, and they seemed pretty nice anyway. In this picture there’s a spider near the top in the sun, but as I know, they’re pretty easy to miss.

We’re also just starting planting season now that the rains have started, so they can grow nice and healthy in preparation for the dryness of summer. Earlier this year the team removed brush plants, and we’re going back and putting in grass seed to take its place. It turns out that birds like to eat grass seed, and they undid a couple hours’ worth of our work. The bird defense plan (not a real thing) has gone into effect, and we will soon find out the minimum covering we need to give our seeds a chance.

A different activity I’m excited for is frog monitoring, which will start any day now. I’ll be putting on some waders and looking in the water for some frog eggs. That’s all you need to know for now, you’ll have to wait until next time for more information (and pictures). And won’t the wait make the payoff that much sweeter?

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