Thursday, March 19, 2009

Mission accomplished: Over 20,000 native seedlings in the ground

by Laura Wainer, Restoration Projects Manager

With the planting season just about "sown" up, we are thrilled to report that we have exceeded our ambitious goal to plant 20,000 native seedlings into several wetland sites ringing the Bay! Nearly 3,500 volunteers donated their time at over 100 programs since November to help restore critical wetland habitat, which is vital to maintain the health of the Bay and also to support the 500 species of wildlife that live in and around it.

Volunteers at Oakland's Martin Luther King Jr. Shoreline worked extremely hard this winter, taking the top spot by planting over 8,000 seedlings. Folks who participated in programs at San Francisquito Creek in Palo Alto ran a close second with just under 8,000 native plants in the ground. And with fewer programs offered, volunteers at Bothin Marsh in Mill Valley, Eden Landing in Hayward and Bair Island in Redwood City held their own with totals ranging from 1,000 to over 2,800 seedlings. Collectively at these three sites over 5,600 plants were planted.

An exciting addition to this year's planting season were the Volunteer Appreciation Days held at Bothin Marsh, San Francisquito Creek and the MLK Jr. Shoreline. Together we honored our dedicated volunteers and celebrated with good food, music, fun giveaways and speakers. In fact, participants at Bothin Marsh were joined by a very special guest star—a gopher snake curious to see what all the ruckus was about outside its home.

At our site in Oakland, evidence of the success of our Community-based Restoration programs also posed a bit of a challenge. Over the last several years, Save The Bay staff and volunteers have done such an effective job of creating habitat for the endangered California clapper rail, that the increased population of clapper rails is actively using that habitat. While that is great news and a clear demonstration of the success of our restoration work, it also meant that we had to vacate the habitat and create a different restoration site to avoid disturbing the endangered birds. It took some creative thinking, but in the end, we made it work.

With the plants in the ground, we now begin weeding the wetlands to clear away invasive species that ultimately degrade habitat for fish and wildlife. Grab your gardening gloves and sign up for one of our many restoration programs.

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