Thursday, October 4, 2012

Trip to the Jenner Headlands: A Focus on French Broom Control

OFF WE GO! After a short van quiz testing our knowledge of French Broom, the class loaded up in a van and BMW and set off to the Jenner Headlands, which is located approximately one hour from the campus entrance.
Friday, September 28th was a day of exploration for the Restoration Ecology students of Sonoma State University. The class (including myself) visited the Jenner Headlands, a privately-held 5,500+/- acre preserve located a few miles north of the small town of Jenner, CA that is not normally open to the public. Beyond the rewards offered by the beautiful, awe-inspiring views and unique forests of the property, the students had the opportunity to get their hands dirty while participating in an ongoing effort to control French Broom (Genista monspessulana) on the property.
The Jenner Headlands property is located a couple miles north of the town of Jenner, CA. Situated between multiple protected areas, the property is an important coastal corridor that boasts coastal prairie, redwood forest, and more. The 5,500+/- acre property was a former working ranch which is now being jointly managed by the Sonoma Land Trust and the Wildlands Conservancy.

In addition, the students were able to strike engaging conversations, applying what they have learned with regard to resource and public lands management, conservation, restoration, and the application of sound ecological principles when pursuing the implementation of a restoration project.
The students were able to get hands on experience with invasive species removal and the use of a "weed wrench", a metal tool that helps lift mature plants and their roots out of the soil. The weed wrench struck one student (Todd Harney) as an important tool that comes with an excessive cost to restoration projects and practitioners, which has potential to be lowered. Todd plans to craft his own weed wrenches at a lower cost in his brothers welding shop, where he may be able to offer the tools to future restoration projects at a reduced price.

We had the opportunity be educated by both Sonoma Land Trust and the Wildlands Conservancy staff about the property and why it is a unique area worthy of protection. The property was originally slated for sale for any purpose, including development for homes, a bed and breakfast, or world class resort. You can see the original "For sale" ad here, which really brings to terms just how important the actions the Sonoma Land Trust and other partner organizations took to protect the property were.

A good portion of the class on the hunt for French Broom to remove with their newly minted weed  wrench skills.
We are lucky enough to have a class member, Ingrid Stearns, who is a staff member at the Sonoma Land Trust and who was able to obtain permission for us to enter and tour the property. We then got a short overview of the French Broom control program the managing organizations had implemented since the property changed hands. Groups had visited the property on multiple occasions over the past few years to remove French Broom. To the classes surprise, control efforts seemed to be effective. The class was informed by Caroline Christian and program staff that broom invasion had been much worse in previous years class trips. This brought up questions that the group approached during their lunch break. What might be causing broom to appear in lower numbers than past years? Could the restoration efforts to control french broom be working? What should the partnered organizations do in the future to prevent french broom from reappearing?
The students regrouped for lunch to discuss the questions listed above, among others.

In addition to our french broom control activities, we were able to simply enjoy a piece of property on the coast of Jenner that most citizens cannot yet explore. We saw many bird spp., a few snakes (spp.), a bobcat on the way there and back, one of the oldest Mahogany trees in the area, and much, much more. Check out the slideshow below to see all the images taken on the trip (More to be added from Caroline and other classmates when they become available.)

After an excellent day and a lot of broom removal, the time came to go home. It was a hot day and most of us were exhausted, but it also gave us an idea of the types of experiences we can look forward to as we enter the workforce over the coming years.

No comments:

Post a Comment