Wunderlich Oak Woodland Restoration Begins in August
Wednesday, August 7, 2019
Visitors to Wunderlich Park will soon see one of numerous steps being taken by San Mateo County Parks and PG&E to restore 16 acres of the parks’ native oak woodland habitat and reduce contiguous wildfire fuels.
Removal of invasive eucalyptus and acacia trees that were introduced to the park in the early 1900s, and that have been progressively crowding out native plants, will begin late August. This is the second phase of the restoration project that began last fall with the planting of 1,800 oak acorn and California buckeye seeds in select park locations. Propagation of these native oak woodland species will be monitored over the next seven years.
The density, health, and canopy structure of blue gum eucalyptus stands can be negatively impacted by weather conditions common for our area. This may result in spontaneous limb failure, known as ‘sudden limb drop’, or uprooting of trees during high winds. The broad-leaf evergreen canopy and shallow root system of eucalyptus make the trees prone to falling during winter storms. At the same time, essential oils within the tree’s bark and leaf debris increases the intensity and spread of wildfires.
As part of the project, crews will construct a fire road between Alambique and Loop trails that will improve accessibility to the Park by firefighters and serve as an emergency exit in the event of a wildfire.
Before the eucalyptus and acacia are removed, on-site biologists will survey the area for any nesting birds, such as eagles and white tail kites, to prevent disruption. Most of the birds that call Wunderlich home, including the great horned owl, red tail hawk and hummingbirds, will have ended the nesting and fledging period.
To ensure the safety of park visitors, the work area and some trails will be closed, including portions of Alambique, Loop and Meadow trails. Project equipment will be staged in these areas and this may mean limited access even when equipment is not in use. Work is expected to last into October 2019. Trail closures will be posted in park kiosks, at trail heads and here.
An example of a smaller scale restoration project can be viewed in the park near the riding ring, at the park entrance, and along Highway 84. Following the removal of 2 acres of eucalyptus, naturally occurring native growth can now be seen.
Large scale restoration projects such as this involve some inconvenience and short-term alteration of a landscape yet ultimately yield the long-term ecological benefit of native plant and animal communities. This project is the first project of its scale to be conducted in San Mateo County Parks.