On November 17th, our Restoration Ecology class went to the Laguna de Santa Rosa Foundation’s Educational Center. Here we were met by Brent, Paul, and Hannah. Eager to get started we began with an informational walk around site. The “Ed. Center” as they called it was a central point for the entire foundation, so it was only appropriate to begin here.
Getting the run down, Laguna de Santa Rosa Foundation. Photo© M. Lambert
We started by discussing the restoration that the Foundation has done around their Ed. Center. This location has a Victorian-style home, which has been repurposed into the offices for the Foundation employees. Surrounding the offices they have planted all native species in a garden setting as a way to show the community how to incorporate native species in their own yards.
The species that they planted included Juncus, Coyote Bush, Willows, and others. Their goal in planting this garden is to allow the community to see a garden that has ecological purpose and is not just ornamental species.
We continued along their established walkway, and this led us to a porch that they called “the overlook”. From this vantage point one could see the entirety of the land surrounding the Ed. Center. To our surprise this land was holding around 100 cows!
Nonnative cows grazing, Laguna de Santa Rosa. Photo© M. Lambert
Throughout our education of restoration and conservation we have been told over and over again about the downsides to cattle grazing on lands, but here we were, standing with one of Sonoma Counties most successful nonprofit organization and they are actively supporting cattle!
After some discussion, they told us that cattle is beneficial to restoration sites, because they are a space holder (essentially). The cattle provides weed suppression, manure, and disturbance. By putting cattle in this location it virtually puts that site on hold, and allows the restoration to be done on it at a later date. Which they were going to do, in hopes to reestablish a meander for the creek.
Unique to the Laguna de Santa Rosa Foundation is their native plant nursery. This is an area that they have created in order to germinate, propagate, and sprout native plants. All of their plants are gained within a reasonable distance from the site that they are going to be planted in, and they ensure genetic difference by collecting from many different individuals.
Their nursery is very small as of yet, but they are beginning a partnership with the Native Plant Society in hopes of expanding their nursery as well as advancing to a level that allows them to sell plants to anyone that wants them. For now they are growing plants only for their own restoration projects.
We proceeded through the mine field of cow patties and headed for the creek. Due to the proximity of the Tubbs Fire in October, we found a little piece of memorabilia.
Burnt book page, Laguna de Santa Rosa. Photo © M. Lambert
After seeing this burnt page out of someone’s book, it made us really consider the importance of restoration and conservation and our goals to get the planet to be a better for the plants and animals, as well as the humans.
Finally we were at the site, or so we thought! We were given our marching orders, grabbed a pair of gloves and kept on a-walking. We crossed the creek and continued walking down a dirt road, we crossed the paved road and congregated in a gravel parking lot.
Raquel Guevara-Bolanos showing off her hard work! Laguna de Santa Rosa. Photo © M. Lambert
In this lot there were two trucks already waiting for us. One had shovels and buckets and the other was completely empty. Our job was to dig up the sedge clusters, put them in the bucket and then transplant them down by the creek.
Once the empty truck was full to the brim of buckets with many sedges each, we were finally ready to transplant.
Our day consisted of digging up and replanting sedges. These sedges were chosen because of their resilience and their ability to reproduce quickly. Because of their quick reproduction they provide a weed-proof mat.
These sedges were a favorite of the Laguna Foundation’s and they strongly encouraged us to not be afraid to use them in restoration.
We learned a lot about the Laguna de Santa Rosa Foundation and many of my classmates expressed an interest in possibly getting an internship through them. I felt that they were doing a ton of great work and am excited to see how their sites progress over then next couple of decades! Thanks Laguna de Santa Rosa Foundation!