Thursday, April 29, 2010

In with the new, out with the old

By Darcie Goodman Collins, Ph.D., Habitat Restoration Director

As Save The Bay's Habitat Restoration Director, I am extremely proud of my team and the 3400 + volunteers who conquered a rainy winter for a successful planting season!

Since the start of our planting season, which begins as soon as the rains come – this year it was September – community members and school groups have assisted Save The Bay in transplanting 25,532 native salt marsh plants at our numerous sites around the Bay.

At Save The Bay, we involve volunteers in every step of the restoration process. They help us collect seeds from native salt marsh plants such as gumplant, salt grass, sea lavender and California Poppies at least one year before they are ready to be planted. Volunteers help us grow all of our plants in our two native plant nurseries, and then finish the job by actually getting the plants into the ground.

Although these plants are local and have adapted to living in the marsh ecosystem, a rainy year such as this one is a blessing for wetland restoration. Ample rain and moist soils help give the newly planted vegetation an extra boost in their new marsh home. And this year, the wet conditions have expedited our ability to meet and exceed our goal to plant 25,000 native seedlings around the Bay!

So what do we do now? With a successful planting season completed, our staff and volunteers are busy making sure our newly planted seedlings are thriving in their new environment. This includes removing invasive plants to reduce competition and in drier seasons, may even involve some hand watering.

General maintenance of our sites coupled with science-based restoration techniques developed by Save The Bay experts over the past 11 years has resulted in over 100 acres of restored and enhanced tidal marsh around the Bay.

Save The Bay’s restoration efforts focus specifically on the important, yet narrow, “transition zone” which is a strip of vegetation (usually less than 30 feet wide) between two types of habitat. In this case, the transition zones we restore border the salt marsh and the upland system. A healthy transition zone is vital for the overall well-being of the marsh because it provides refuge for wildlife during flood events, a food source for marsh species, and also acts as natural buffers to protect the surrounding lands from sea level rise.

I could talk all day about Save The Bay's Community-based Restoration program and the importance of our work in maintaining a healthy Bay eco-system. But for now, if you are interested, please visit our website for more information.

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