Monday, December 10, 2012

December 7, 2012 PLD Plot Data Day

The following documentation presented to you by: Nick Darst, Todd Harney, Kolaan Busbice, and Matty Gillan.

In order to reduce redundancy, see post titled Himalayan Blackberry Control Experiment by Kolaan Busbice for a detailed description of the day.
Dr. Caroline Christian with the pregame speech to pump up the team of restorationists.  Apparently a few did not have their coffee that morning. 

Going over materials before setting out for data collection.

In order to get consistent data everyone needed to be on the same page from the get-go

Watch out for the bike!
The materials for the day. Each group was given clipboard with appropriate data sheets,  tape measure, flags, a compass, a densiometer, a three-meter pvc equipped with a meter tape, and some skotch tape.
Ingenuity at its finest.
After initial data was collected, the treatment of clipping was applied.

A fully clipped plot.
The bloggers diligently bringing you this here information.
Meanwhile, a little more south of our study site, one student was acting as an exotic (maybe invasive?) species.

Sunday, December 9, 2012

Himalayan Blackberry Control Experiment

The Sonoma State Restoration Ecology Class woke up to a sunny morning following an extensive rainstorm. The Sonoma State ENSP department is gathering baseline data for a Himalayan Blackberry (Rubus armeniacus) Control Experiment. The purpose of the experiment is to restore a patch of vegetation parallel with Copeland Creek, spanning from Sonoma State to Snyder ln. The restoration ecology students were armed with the task of collecting data to test for any variance among plots before the experiment is treated with herbicide.

Students Jerry-rigging a transect line to a PVC pipe:

 By the day’s end, students were expected to collect data for two sample blocks (4 plots per block).

 Students preparing equipment for a sunny day in the blackberry thickets:

Himalayan Blackberry is one of California’s most invasive shrub species. It is found all over Sonoma County, and can create many problems due to its high growth rates. Himalayan Blackberry is hated for its thorny structure, but is appreciated by the community for its sweet summer fruit.

Plots were previously marked by PVC markers:

Many of the plots contained very dense Blackberry growth, and made it difficult for students to maneuver without getting pricked every step. Students used a transect line, measuring tape on PVC that was threaded through the base of each blackberry thicket, to accurately record different aspects of growth for 9 sample blocks.

 Nick and Bryan in sampling action:

Data was recorded using a point-intercept sampling method. Students used marking flags to systematically note cane density in each sample plot.

 Foot traffic accompanied by puzzled faces and curious dogs was a regular occurrence throughout the day:

Data collection for the day was an extensive process, but was successful to say the least. The control of Himalayan Blackberry along the Copeland Creek jogging path will create open niches for desired plant species, and give joggers a more diverse scenery. Data collection also offered additional practice for students aspiring to work in the field following graduation.
Now that the baseline data was documented, efforts will be allocated to the removal of Blackerry from each plot. With future help from Sonoma State’s ENSP department, Copeland Creek will receive a much needed overhaul. 

Friday, November 30, 2012

Early Friday morning, Restoration Ecology students loaded into some luxurious rental cars and headed north on the 101 towards the isolated town of Boonville California. Destination, The Garcia River Forest in Mendocino County.

        Just under 10 years ago, in 2004 The Conservation Fund, an environmental non-profit organization, bought 24,000 acres of Redwood and Douglas Fir forest which became California's first large nonprofit-owned working forest. Only 4 years later it became certified under the Climate Action Reserve as a source of green house gas reduction. This means that Garcia River Forest receives funding through a system known as carbon taxing which pays you not log trees because of carbon sequestration. But the interesting thing is that Garcia River Forest also gets money from sustainable timber harvesting, so it works out that they are payed to leave most trees in place but are also paid for some selective logging.
 But instead of clear cutting, Garcia River Forest practices sustainable forest management through Selective Harvest methods known as silver culture logging. With this, Group Selection Units, or groups of trees are carefully chosen for logging. Many regulations are in place prohibiting logging of certain trees especially those that are suitable Spotted Owl or Marbled Murrelet habitat described to be dense dark stands of Redwoods or large Douglas Firs with wide limbs. Northern Spotted Owl Habitat has various regulatory categories, such as nesting or roosting habitat, and plays a big role in tree harvest selection. Garcia River Forest logging practices are very monitored and are required to abide by California Forest Practice Rules and huge effort is put into putting together CEQA documents.

Various restoration projects are in place on the property including logging road maintenance and culvert installation. We also saw how they improved salmon habitat by placing trees so that a portion of them is in the creek.

Garcia River Forest has a unique system that exemplifies how environmental policies and economic incentives can be utilized to maintain a healthy and working forest.

Thursday, November 29, 2012

Laguna de Santa Rosa Field Trip!

On November 16, 2012 students of the Restoration Ecology class gathered at Balletto Winery, eager to learn about the Laguna de Santa Rosa and even flex their muscle to help restore portions which have been invaded by non-native species such as Himalayan Blackberry

As the day began and the students energized, running off of coffee and enthusiasm (except for Nick mid yawn) and received a breakdown of the days events from Brent Reed, Restoration supervisor of the Laguna de Santa Rosa Foundation

The first stop was at Kelly farm to observe three man made waste water pools designed in the early 90's to naturally diffuse water and abstract unwanted nutrients and bacteria using bull rushes, cattails, willows, and cottonwoods. The waste water is diverted from the city of Santa Rosa and used to irrigate large fields for hay production for neighboring farms throughout the county of Sonoma

Next stop was the Duer creek restoration site just south of the Kelly farm ponds, an active site overseen by the Laguna de Santa Rosa Foundation attempting to widen the riparian corridor to provide habitat for native birds and other animals in the Laguna as well as help suppress the extreme invasion of Harding grass, Prickly lettuce, Teasel, and Curly Dock. Seen in the picture above are Coyote Bush (Bacchris pilularus), Oregon Ash (Fraxinus latifolia), Valley Oak (Quercus lobata), rose (Rosa californica), Elderberry (Sambucus mexicana), and Box Elder (Acer negundo). The strips of dead brown foliage between plants is a result of the Foundation's attempt at suppressing weeds to allow the native plants to grow using a chemical mixture of Chateau, Rodeo, and Li-700 sprayed using backpack sprayers.

After a wonderful bathroom break at the Chevron the students were eager to enter the Meadowlark restoration site, the largest active site overseen by the Foundation

Students were able to observe the growth and success of plants from 2006-2012 and the vast irrigation systems installed to help establish these native species. Here the explanation of how funding such a vast project was explained as various funding sources such as the Sonoma County Open Space District, Cal Trans, and the City of Sebastopol.

FINALLY! It was time to get down and dirty with some Himalayan Blackberry. Students jumped at the opportunity to grab a pick-axe, shovel, or McCloud and rip away at the invasive species seen here growing over fallen oak tree trunks. It was a fulfilling and satisfying feeling to do their part and help restore the Laguna de Santa Rosa with their own hard work and dedication!
Do you feel ya?

Todd.....aka The Restoration Man. With his camo beanie, tooth necklace, and shears he can destroy any invasive species in his mere seconds..

and his helpful side kick....Shovel Boy!!!

and Shovel Boy's dependable side kick....Captian Matty!

At the end of the day the students of Sonoma State's 2012 Restoration Ecology class were tired, cold, wet, and dirty. But they never felt better. The blackberry was knocked back and they even helped save a California Buckeye tree from being engulfed by the fast growing canes of the Blackberry. They all slept a little bit better that night knowing the service they did in helping the Laguna de Santa Rosa Foundation help restore their largest site known to date. The Blackberry was down...but certainly not out. In just a few months the evil exotic species will surely return and wait for the right time to invade again. Until next time, when the students of Caroline Christian's class come back to serve their duty and restore the Laguna once more.

Monday, November 26, 2012

Restoration of the Garcia River Forest

          On November 9, 2012, our class had the opportunity to explore the Garcia River Forest restoration project. We began our trek driving north on the 101, then hung a left towards Booneville, all the while hoping that we would be spared the forecasted heavy rains. Upon entering the Garcia River Forest with our guide, Madison from the Conservation Fund, I had little inclination that the surrounding trees had at one point been completely deforested.

Ingrid, Faye Marie, and KC surveying the landscape.

            At our first stop, Madison explained how the 24,000 acre forest was purchased from a lumber company in 2004 and since then, the Conservation Fund has succeeded in restoring it to a functional ecosystem while still profiting from harvesting timber.

           Before harvesting timber, the Conservation Fund must write a Timber Harvest Plan to be approved. Some people often protest against harvesting timber because they are concerned of cutting down old growth and habitats of spotted owls or other endangered species. However, the public relatively approves of their plan in the Garcia River forest because the Conservation Fund encourages public input and hosts hikes to show and explain their plan.

           Selective harvesting is not actually healthy for the forest. Choosing the healthiest and biggest trees will result in a weaker population of trees. Instead, they mimic a natural burn and select an entire area of trees and cut them all down so that the new generation of trees has the ability to start again with an even playing field instead of competing with older generations. However, they do try to select trees that are damaged by disease, insects, and fire first.
Historically, timber harvesters used to skid the cut trees down to the creek to collect at the bottom of the river. Now, however, to avoid the disturbance of sensitive habitat and excessive soil deposition into the river, the cut trees are sent down specifically carved skid trails.
An example of a creek restoration project. The creek was at one time cleared because people believed that fish needed a clear passage way. Now, fallen trees are strategically placed in the creek to recreate habitat for coho salmon, macroinvertibrates,  and other organisms. The logs minimize erosion and capture sediment, making cleaner gravels for spawning.

Felicia's Fungi Finds

            The Conservation Fund produces another source of income by selling their earned carbon credits. They are given a limit of trees possible to harvest through the California Climate Action Registry. When they harvest fewer trees than their limit, they are given carbon credits that can be sold to make a profit. In this way, the organization can raise money for maintenance and restoration projects on the property all while carbon is sequestered by the redwood and Douglas fir forest. 

         At the end of the day, our Restoration Ecology class gained a new appreciation and a lot of knowledge of a functional forest restoration project. We give thanks to Madison, the Conservation Fund, and the other non-profit organizations that provided the opportunity for such a great experience.

Friday, November 16, 2012

Garcia River Forest, Mendocino Co.

On November 9th, 2012 our Restoration Ecology class got the chance to learn about sustainable timber harvesting and restoration practices within the Garcia River Forest in association with the Conservation Fund. Although it may not have been as hands on as previous field days, it was one of my favorite trips that we have been on so far.

The Drive into the Garcia River Forest

The property itself has a conservation easement and is comprised of 24,000 acres. The Conservation Fund purchased the tract in 2004 with wildlife conservation and nature conservancy funding, wanting to keep it as forest, not subdivided land.  Two thirds of the area provides sustainable timber harvesting while the remainder is dedicated to restoration for species such as Spotted Owl and Koho Salmon habitats.

The land was first cut for logging in the 50's and 60's and again in the 80's and 90's. There are no pure stands of old growth in the Garcia River Forest

Pictured below is our first stop within the forest at a burn site called, "Jack's Fire" which occurred in 2008 due to lightning. Approximately 700 acres burned.

Small patches of area that are affected by fire are typically not removed. Some reasons for this are because it is not economically feasible and is often not necessary. It is also difficult to cut down the small areas as far as physically getting equipment out there to do so.

In areas that you want to harvest, various data is collected and marked such as trees, the parcel as well as water ways within the specific site. Additional information should also include if the site will be for clear cutting or individual tree removal.

Tree marked by a blue tag indicating its need for removal

The type of conifer trees found in the forest consists of redwood, Douglas fir and sugar pine. Hardwood trees that are present are the pacific madrone and tan oak.

Trees that can be harvested are limited to small trees and group selection harvesting no bigger than an acre. This is due to the forest being part of the northern spotted owl habitat. In the Garcia River Forest this are a lot of foraging habitat but not roosting habitat. Classifications for each are based off of canopy coverage.

When harvesting you want to make enough growing space for regeneration and to make the forest harvestable in the years to come. This creates growing classes within different parts of the forest.

Fairly recent harvest area near Jack's Fire burn site
In order to remove trees from the forest after they have been cut is by using skid trails (path that a tree takes to get out of the forest area by logging equipment).

Skid Trail
  Because skid trails disrupt the soil, water bars are made to prevent runoff. Previously established skid trails are reused in order to reduce the damage to sites.

Our class looking majestic in the forest with our guide Madison 

                              Lunch Break! Not a bad view right?!

The beasts that got us here

After gathering figs and having lunch we learned that there are different ways to remove logs from the forest. One method is by cable yarding and another is by logging tractors.

(She thinks my tractors se...Sustaining timber harvest?...)

To the river!!!

We continue our journey to the restoration portion of the forest.

 The Department of Fish and Game had to get a sixteen-hundred permit in order to add logs into the river for fish habitat which goes against basic loggers instincts (always told to cut trees and bring them away from waterways, never towards them).

Having large wood in rivers offers a number of benefits to the Koho Salmon. They offer direct shelter from enemies such as raccoons, provide shelter during low flow, aid in blockage of high flowing water (fast moving water) that helps salmonoids move upstream and is also where algae can grow and feed baby salmoniods.

When logs are added into the stream they are anchored. Typically they're placed pointing upsteam so when water moves the log it will get locked into the stream. Every log gets a tag to trace them in the future and see if they have moved locations.

Identity tag on a log in the river

Felicia's fungi findings!

found on the path down to the river


The last stop of the day was looking at coverts. Coverts help direct water runoff from the forest hill slope to the stream. The outflows of coverts are onto rock beds.

One way to divert water runoff from roads is by having angled slopes as well as rolling dips.

Our last find of the day before heading back to Sonoma State!

Banana Slug! Anyone hungry?

By: Faye-Marie Pekar