January and February revisited

“Psh. Whatever.”

Boss Eric, when told that his shoe was untied

It’s been a little while and things continue to happen, so I’ve got a lot to cover. As the title suggests, this is going to be a recap of all things January and February. In deciding how to package all this information, I ran into a conflict between flow of thought and adherence to the timeline. My team may work on three different projects in a week without finishing any, so it may be unsatisfying for a reader to get little pieces of many different things. In addition to flow and timeline, I also have to consider relevance, depth of detail, reader interest, and pure wow factor. Just a little peek behind the curtain of the intense and cutthroat world of intern blog-writing. All that’s to say I organized it mostly by category for this edition, time be darned.

Early Rain

The first thing that happened in January (forget what I said about time) was a huge amount of rain, which caused damage all over the Bay area. Portions of the park have historically been vulnerable to storm damage, and our part of the park is no different. We went out to a set of horse ranches near a creek to see how they held up. They have been working to alter the flow of water runoff so it doesn’t go directly from the stables to the creek, and it was encouraging to see where the ditches had worked during the storm.

Frustratingly huge video of water bubbling up from the oversaturated ground

But this was the biggest storm in years, so it did some unexpected things. The ground was saturated, there was flooding, and a driveway/bridge was washed away in the deluge. Despite the damage, it was helpful to see a worst-case scenario in order to know where to improve for the future.

Even after the storm, the sneaky water was still plotting evil. I parked that morning in an unpaved lot near one of our trailheads, and when I went to leave in the afternoon, I learned that my car was not made for potholes; tires spun helplessly as I (the intern) imagined the consequences of getting a government vehicle stuck in a puddle.

But my salvation came, and his name was Brian (Bryan?). Walking from the trail, he gave a neighborly “How ya doin?” I said I was doing good (I wasn’t), then he saw my tires. Turns out he lived within walking distance and had a truck with a winch on it, which he returned with and easily pulled out my little hybrid. I’m sure there’s a lesson in there.

Plants and planting

We planted had our final planting push, and now we’re all done with planting! Over the course of the season, we got over 150lbs of seeds and more than 2,000 container plants into the ground! Grasses made up a big majority of those numbers, as well as lupine seeds to help out the butterflies. On a particularly bare and rocky patch, we made small islands of plantings and seedings in the hope that they would help each other out by developing the soil around them.

Besides grass, there’s a ‘wet meadow’ where the soil holds a lot of water, so we planted some friends that like that sort of thing. Volunteers helped us with planting Western dock (Rumex occidentalis) and Dense sedge (Carex densa) in saturated soils, and we rounded out the wet meadow with some (Hosackia gracilus), a nice little lotus that’s a little more delicate.

Frog Surveys

Surveys for the California Red-legged frog are done for the winter. We found 32 egg masses in total and even saw some tadpoles after they hatched! I got to wear waders, and the mystery jelly between ponds is (a lil shrunken but) still there, so it was very satisfactory for me. Hooray for frogs! There was also a snail swimming around on its back, relaxed.

New Lands

We’ve been visiting some lands in our jurisdiction that I hadn’t been to before. We went to Mori Point and Milagra Ridge to figure out our resource management goals for these sights as the park takes on a bigger management responsibility. The head image for this post is me at Mori point. It was very windy the day we went, but I always love seeing new places.

The other site is Phleger Estate, which is way down south and almost feels like a different park altogether. There are portions of oak forest and portions of second-growth redwoods, and there is a gentle peace in the atmosphere. My first time there, we joined forces with another GGNRA team (and another EFTA intern, Ana) to monitor for King’s Mountain Manzanita (Arctostaphylos regismontana). It’s a threatened shrub that was known to be there, so we were just counting the population to check in on the trends. There are also other manzanitas in the same area, so we had to look closely and use a key to differentiate between them. The results were positive: we found more than we were expecting!

In the search for the shrub, we came across a curious pond and a disturbed area with some evidence of rooting. Both of these earned a follow-up trip, but I’ll save talking about the pond for next time. As for the rooting, it was reminiscent of pig behavior. Not ideal, because wild pigs can be rambunctious and we haven’t seen them in this part of the park before. We came back another day, this time with the wildlife team, to do some sleuthing for evidence of boars. Here’s a picture of the wildlife interns, Aiko and Isabella, installing a trail cam to catch the swine in action. The first part of any good plan is assessing the problem, so we set up some cameras to see: 1) if the marks were left by boars, 2) how many animals there are, and 3) are they hanging around or just passing through, driven by wanderlust, never to be tied down, more comfortable on the road than in a bed. So I enjoyed that day.  

Joining the Other Interns

Another day I enjoyed was when I went with some other interns, Steph, Jade, and Lucy, to one of the sites Steph works at. We planted lupine seeds on a steep hill with a great view. All the other interns are great, so I’m excited any time I get to work with them.

Personal life (or whatever 🙄)

Speed round! I’ll spend one sentence on each interesting tidbit. The storms knocked out power at the dorms one night so we all read by lantern light. There was an extreme tide so we took a trip to a nice tide spot to see some nudibranchs and other neat things. For the lunar new year we went to Chinatown in the city before watching the parade in the windy rain that drove most of the audience away before the final dragon. I had another birthday and my parents came to visit and we went all over the place, including taco bell on the beach. It never snows on the mountains closest to the city, but it did one wild day for all to see.

Let’s wrap it up. There were lots of pictures this time (and more below), but I left some out because it felt like maybe too much? Anyway, thanks for reading!

  • Elora Bossert
    Posted at 18:31h, 28 March

    Nice to see a young man out there enjoying nature, taking exceptional pictures of banana slugs

  • Robyn Schroeder
    Posted at 21:28h, 28 March

    I second Elora’s sentiments. I really relate to the snail swimming around on its back, relaxed.

  • Dane Bossert
    Posted at 10:59h, 31 March

    As always, EFTA intern Ivan always seems to know exactly what words to say to bring us into the daily life of a certain gastropod or grass. The pictures could be found in a textbook, or very well in an art museum. After much anticipation, this blog post somehow rung deeper than all before. I’ve never seen such an eye for the biosphere, save David Attenborough.