Hey, everybody! I hope you’re all out there enjoying the beautiful springy weather. Twigs are budding, flowers are blooming, and fer-elfs are making pies from freshly picked bubbleberries – ahhhh, the perfect way to enjoy a spring evening J As a lot of you know, April is Earth Month, and April 22nd is Earth Day. I think it’s fantastic that people all over the world are focusing on what they can do to help the environment.I wanted to get involved and do something hands-on, so I volunteered for a group called Heal the Bay. They’re a nonprofit organization in Southern California whose mission is to protect the water quality of the streams that flow into the Pacific Ocean so we can keep the water clean for all our aquatic friends. I participated in their Stream Team program – cool name! The Stream Team helps maintain habitats in Malibu Creek State Park. It’s a huge park, so there’s a lot of work to do. My assignment was to remove invasive non-native plants that had overtaken a slope near the creek.Before the land was preserved as a state park, it was used for raising cattle. The hay that fed the cattle brought a lot of seeds that were not native to the area. When the seeds sprouted into fields of grass, it became a big problem. Not only does it choke out the plants that are supposed to be there – like mugwort, stinging nettle, and blackberries – it makes it very difficult for the native oak trees to repopulate. That’s because their acorns need to fall on bare ground in order to take root. All the native vegetation grows in clumps, leaving plenty of space for the acorns to fall on dirt and sprout into baby oaks. But if the acorns land in a thick carpet of invasive grass, they can’t take root, and the population of oak trees starts to dwindle. And when native plants die out, animals no longer have the food and homes they need to survive. I was amazed that even one plant can endanger an entire ecosystem. It just proves that our environment is a delicate, interconnected system that needs every plant and animal to thrive. Maintaining habitats is a never-ending job, requiring constant work and vigilance.It took several hours, but with a few dozen volunteers, we got the job done.
Earth Day ’10 (04-22-10)