12 Feb Side Quest Adventures
It has been a successful 5 weeks so far in my new position at Golden Gate National Recreation Area. I have accomplished so much in the past 5 weeks and have had many great experiences to reflect on. I went on many side quests to get a taste for different projects that are going on in and around the park as well as working on my project at Fort Baker.
I joined two interns Matt and Dani at Muir Beach for freshwater turtle surveys. We got our waders on and got into the water in search of turtles. We had a radio and we would walk around the water channels waiting to hear a beep. When we would hear a beep it would confirm that there was a turtle at least half a mile away from us. These turtles were caught in Point Reyes and translocated to Muir beach so we were checking in on the size of the population in the area. I enjoyed my time exploring the water at Muir Beach!
Another project I joined in on was invasive plant removal at Point Reyes. We had a lovely drive through Samuel P Taylor and into Point Reyes listening to a podcast all about mandarin trees. When we arrived we met up with some volunteers as well as the vegetation ecologist who led the field project. We hiked out to the dunes where we removed ice plants (Carpobrotus edulis) to protect some endangered dune species like Tidestrom’s lupine (Lupinus tidestromii) and beach layia (Layia carnosa). I have had experience before pulling ice plant but this time it was different since it was not just a monoculture of ice plant and we had to watch out for the endangered plants as we weeded. It was great to see how previous efforts have allowed other plants a chance to grow. I enjoyed working in such a beautiful habitat and we even saw whales breaching in the ocean! A very rewarding day seeing the large pile of ice plant at the end.
I found some free time in my work week and drove over the Golden Gate to the Presidio to join Micheal, John, and their intern Angie for a volunteer event pulling cape ivy (Delairea Odorata). We hiked into the dense woody area where right away you can see the cape ivy has climbed and crawled over everything in the area. It will twist around branches and climb from the ground all the way up into the canopy of trees and tall shrubs. We removed roughly 8 to 10 large bags of Cape Ivy in a few hours. Another successful invasive plant removal project.
I also joined Laura from the habitat restoration team in Tennessee Valley working with her and volunteers to remove ehrharta grass and address an erosion slip area. We pulled piles of Ehrhardt grass and created wattles-like structures with materials including sticks and hay to try to stop any further soil erosion in the future. We also spread hay around previously planted native plants and any area of bear ground. We had some cow parsnip (Heracleum maximum) seed with us that we directly seeded at the end of the day. This site was interesting because its location was so close to a neighborhood so getting control of the erosion scar is extremely important. I enjoyed my time working with Laura and her seasoned volunteers.
I spent a few field days in the rain planting at Fort Baker some native plants to help increase the health of the Mission Blue butterfly habitat. I enjoy planting events immensely. I was able to join another planting event with all of the new interns planting at Upper Rodeo Beach some wetland plants. Afterward, we also joined another project where we weeded away some vetch that was overgrowing on an endangered plant called Arenaria Paludicola. It was another great day in the field and to end the day we had our monthly NR meeting where we made weather together and enjoyed desserts everyone brought to the office.
My time so far here has been extremely rewarding and filled with many great learning experiences. I can confidently say that this internship has been a lot of fun so far and I’m eager for what is to come next!
Watch out for the next blog!