With a growing squad of volunteer park stewards at work, the weeds in the Native Plant Area of the park suffered a serious setback Saturday morning. We provided air, sunshine, and clear soil to native sage, ceanothus, buckeye, coyote bush, elderberry, lemonadeberry and other shrubs by clearing invasive vegetation that was climbing up inside them or hemming them in from the sides, or even over-arching them. There was still a lot of the highly aggressive Kikuyu grass. Poison hemlock also had grown a foot high or taller, and we pulled out piles of it. We noticed that in several cases, aggressive fast-growing imports such as acacia, better suited for freeway medians, had somehow taken root within a few inches of slower growing California woody shrubs. With so many hands at work, progress was rapid and mountains of cleared plant material piled up. “We appreciate the cooperation of Park management,” said Chavez Park Conservancy Volunteer Coordinator Bob Huttar, “in having staff remove the debris.”
In the weeds we also found and removed quantities of discarded recyclable bottles and cans, as well as some rotten bedding material that looked like it had been out there for years. Weeds not only threaten plants, they also encourage and provide cover for humans who litter.
As on past outings, we made some nature discoveries. Two of the volunteers found a bird’s nest with four eggs in it, about knee high in a coyote bush. We did not take photos and stayed clear of that area in order not to disrupt the parent bird(s). We also saw a skunk. This looked like a smaller and possibly younger skunk than the one photographed in the area a few weeks earlier. The skunk did not seem alarmed by our presence and did not strike an offensive posture when being photographed.
A few snapshots of the Saturday morning outing. Top 5: Volunteer park stewards at work, clear area under bush, piles of debris. Then: Small skunk eyeing photographer. Bottom row: recyclables and garbage recovered from weedy undergrowth.