Reseeding a Natural Preserve with Native Grass
As we hiked up Old Stage Road at Edgewood County Park & Natural Preserve from the parking lot to meet Perry McCarty, a volunteer with Friends of Edgewood, we enjoyed the lush greenery of the oak woodlands. As soon as we met Perry, we were impressed by his dedication and preparedness—his car was stuffed with multiple shovels, picks, rakes, and other tools from his home. Our task was to level and install seed beds for the Green Grass Project at Edgewood Farms —an amazing project spearheaded by the Friends of Edgewood group, which has been helping steward the park and its incredible diversity of plant life for over 25 years.
The project involved installing 12 raised beds at Edgewood for native plant seed production. Volunteers will collect seed from the native plants in the park, grow them out in the beds, and then use the seed produced there to reseed the beautiful grasslands of the park. The goal is to continue to restore this critical ecosystem without requiring expensive seed amplification services from outside of the park. We worked with Perry, Dee and Ken Himes, and Howie Smith to level the seed beds, move around the clay soil, and help clear any poison oak that was dangling over the old stone wall covered with moss. We arranged the beds to allow for the best access for the volunteers coming in to cultivate—working around the fence that Joel Cervantes and other rangers at the park were helping to construct. Under the skillful direction of Dee, a landscape professional, we carefully added chicken wire to the base of all beds to keep rodents from munching on our precious specimens, and landscaping fabric to prevent runoff and erosion on the sloped area. It was a challenge using wheelbarrows to bring soil up the hill to fill the beds—we found most success with a running start!
The soil was obtained from a facility which sanitizes their products, to stop the spread of Sudden oak death, Phytopthora ramorum, which negatively affects many oak species in our parks and can spread quickly through soil and water. Perry made multiple soil runs in a large rental truck. During our work, we were impressed and inspired by the dedication, knowledge and hard work of the Friends of Edgewood volunteers, who have steadfastly tended to our native grasslands, fending off detrimental weeds in their weekly Weed Warriors programs—scouring our grasslands and removing invasive thistles and other weeds by hand. They additionally started the San Mateo thornmint (Acanthomintha obovate ssp. Duttonii) and white-rayed pentachaeta (Pentachaeta bellidiflora) preservation projects in the park as well, beginning in 2008 and expanding over the years to enhance and grow these endangered populations. After their re-introduction in 2007, each spring, Friends of Edgewood volunteers play a key role in monitoring the populations of Bay Checkerspot butterflies (Euphydryas editha bayensis) in the park.
Friends of Edgewood went on to plant 17 native species in these beds, including summer lupine (Lupinus formosus), California poppy (Eschscholzia californica), and yellow mariposa lily (Calochortus luteus). We were excited to receive an email several days after finishing installing the seed beds with a photo of Edgewood Farms’ first germinated seed! We are thrilled to hear, as we are largely working from home, of the good progress of the native species planted in the seed beds. We are grateful to all volunteers who work to preserve our invaluable natural resources in the parks and can’t wait to see the fruits of the labor in the golden, pink, and violet blooms of our native grassland!