Spring Is Upon Us in the GGNRA! by Angie Wu

Working With the Seasons


Lately, I’ve been thinking about how my day-to-day tasks as a land manager and steward change with transformations in the land and transitions between seasons. As spring (very quickly) moves into the Bay Area, my team and I are confronted with the consequences of a consistently wet winter: abnormally happy non-native plants, quenched and satiated from the storms and atmospheric rivers that have, like clockwork, rolled through the park every couple of weeks since the start of my position in November.

With the bolting of invasive annual grasses and the first appearances of other non-natives that arrive with spring, we give our final efforts towards removing wintertime culprits like Oxalis pes-caprae. Additionally, the start of bird nesting season affects certain aspects of our work that would otherwise disturb valuable habitat or materials for nesting. No longer able to pull invasive vines like Cape Ivy from canopies or bushes because of bird nesting season, we re-focus our efforts to grubbing (removing from the ground) instead. Gone are the days of using landscape fabric to smother the baby annual grasses in the wintertime – we now use power tools like brush cutters to take care of areas that are too densely covered with grasses for hand weeding. With no shortage of things to do in the GGNRA for SF Veg Team, it seems that the easiest and most efficient way to get things done is by working alongside the progression of seasons and the natural changes in the environment rather than against it.

More! Rare! Plants!

Ceanothus masonii monitoring at Bolinas Ridge with Michael and Catherine (from Northern Marin Veg!)

What else comes with spring? More rare plant monitoring! Because some plants are easier to spot when they are in bloom, it is easier to conduct rare plant surveys during times when we expect a particular species to be in flower. For this month, we visited sites outside of San Francisco County to monitor a few different plants throughout the park in both Marin and San Mateo Counties. Specifically, we surveyed Bolinas Ridge for Mason’s Ceanothus (Ceanothus masonii), as well as both Sweeney and Nicasio Ridge down in San Mateo for Coast Rock Cress and SF Wallflower (Arabis blepharophylla and Erysimum franciscanum). To scout Bolinas Ridge for rare plants was an adventure, as it was quite literally bush whacking through maritime chapparal systems for 5 hours and identifying plants along the way. Nicasio Ridge was also extremely beautiful – I hope to return later in the spring when more flowers in bloom! Already there are paintbrush (Castilleja affinis), checkerblooms (Sedalcia malviflora), and wallflower in full bloom, and often in the same area.

Other Adventures to Kick-Off the Season!

Whitney and I in the elements at Mori Point!

In addition to my usual day-to-day activities (hand weeding around rare plants, writing blogs, and putting on some FANTASTIC volunteer programs), I also participated in some other notable activities this month that I thought I should share. I got to spend the day with San Mateo Veg (again!) at Mori Point at the end of February, where we worked on soil decompaction. Working in areas previously used as trails, I helped to break down the top layers of the soil so that wildflowers and natives can eventually be directly seeded into the ground. We used hand picks and pick mattocks, and it was quite the workout! Without soil decompaction, the ground would be too hard for seeds to grow in because of the ground’s previous usage as a trail by visitors. Although we had to leave a bit early because of the strong winds and rains, I can’t wait to return to this site further down the line to see plants growing happily in the area that we worked in!

Lunar New year was also in February! To celebrate Lunar New Year, there was a huge parade and street fair in San Francisco’s Chinatown. NPS had a booth at this event to highlight the park’s AAPI communities as well as share with community members the different resources and spaces that the park provides. I spent a few hours at the NPS booth tabling and talking with visitors about the park and my role as an intern at the park, and I also got to meet other folks working in different branches of the park as well. It was a lot of fun to attend the festival and talk with people about their own unique experiences in the park. Lunar New Year has always been a really important time of celebration and community for my family and I, so being able to attend this event was a really awesome and meaningful experience that I am really glad I got to participate in.

Notable Naturalist Finds

Clavulina of a sort

Seen on a hike up to East Peak of Mt. Tamalpais with Dani!

Fritillaria affinis – Checker Lily

Seen on a rare plant survey on Sweeney Ridge. The flowers of this lily naturally dip down like the ones in this photo. They are such a beautiful color!

Sanicula laciniata – Laceleaf Sanicle

Also seen on my Mt. Tamalpais hike with Dani. This is only my second time seeing a laceleaf sanicle. It is related to the Footsteps of Spring, my favorite plant in the park so far.

Scoliopus bigelovii – California Fetid Adderstongue

Seen on a trail heading out to Bolinas Ridge on a rare plant survey. The leaves are spotty and look like they are moldy. This plant looks like it should be on another planet.

Fomitopsis of a sort?

Seen on Mt. Tam hike. No idea what this is. It looks like a Turkey Tail but it is extremely stiff and very fat.

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