By: Jessi Laughlin and Jasmin Perdue
Our class got the opportunity to take a tour of the Laguna de Santa Rosa located off Highway 12 just outside of Sebastopol. Wendy provided us with some articles from Brent Reed (our tour guide and Ecological Program manager for the Laguna) to read and give us an introduction to the area and the changes that have taken place. It was neat to see some of the historical photos of the Laguna.
The morning started out with a downpour that caused us to leave a little later than usual. The weatherman said the rain would stop mid-morning but all we could do was keep our fingers crossed. Wendy called Brent to confirm we were still good to go and we were! Our very soggy group pilled into the vans and away we went.
We were greeting by Brent and Aaron and only a few sprinkles. Brent started our tour at Meadowlark Field where 3,000+ trees and shrubs have been planted as part of the overall restoration work in the Laguna. What was once a recreation area that later developed into a dumping ground is now being restored and preserved as the unique wetland it is.
This area was the most recently restored part of the Laguna. Brent took us on a “journey through time” and we saw restoration work through the last decade. He shared photos of the area before restoration work had begun and little landmarks helped orient the photos for us to see the progress in plant growth.
The riparian corridor of valley oaks, Oregon ash, and box elders thickened as we progressed on the path. Brent pointed out that the wildlife seemed more abundant along the corridor as well. We came across a unique land bridge that is utilized by the Laguna Foundation that has to be removed in the winter due to flooding. This flooding is very important for the vernal pools nearby. There is an endangered plant that calls these vernal pools home. Aaron talked about some of the restoration efforts that have involved the process of disturbance and even some herbicide use when the endangered species is dormant.
The rain returned just in time for lunch. We struggled to open a little shelter tent and finally got it opened once the rains started to die down. The next part of our trip was planting basket sedge. Using the tools Brent and Aaron provided we cleared the top soil (and hopefully an exotic seed bank) for planting. Two large trays of basket sedge plugs were waiting to be planted. We planted in three different plots and then mulched with straw to help reduce exotics from germinating and to keep the moisture in the soil.
With the rain gone and the plants in the ground we cleaned up to head home. We were so grateful for the time and information that Brent and Aaron shared with us. The Laguna de Santa Rosa is a diverse watershed that is moving towards healthier functions. It’s a beautiful place that we are lucky enough to have right in our own backyard. There are trails for the public to enjoy and we highly recommend it.