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Skyline Ridge Open Space – Habitat Restoration

Date: (Sat.) Nov. 5, 2005
Location: Palo Alto, CA
Event Director: - 206.913.3790
Type: Plant acorns above Horseshoe Lake

Event Write-Up

By Terry Farrah

One hundred fifty-one trees were planted at Skyline Ridge last Saturday by 18 BAOC members and friends. In four crews, we worked for just over 3 hours under sunny skies. One crew planted acorns. The other crews worked around "pods" of oak seedlings -- the products of a previous acorn-planting effort -- planting Douglass fir, madrone, toyon, and various ground covers such as strawberry nearby.

Before setting to work, we were briefed by the preserve staff on the history of the area and on planting technique. We learned that the purpose of our work was to restore an area previously used as a Christmas tree farm. The Christmas trees had been removed because the rows had created drainage paths that led to serious erosion problems. The area was now quite barren except for grasses, coyote bush, and the tiny oak seedlings surrounded by protective blue plastic tubes.

I served on one of the crews that was putting in plants. The young plants had been obtained from the native plants nursery of Acterra, a local group whose mission is to protect and restore the natural environment. Acterra had gathered seeds from Skyline Ridge and surrounding areas to start the plants. It was hoped that collecting from a wide area would lead to a genetic diversity that would resist disease. We learned the importance of planting at just the right depth, and without air pockets.

The staff emphasized several times their appreciation for our work, stating that they rely heavily on volunteers to complete projects like this one. They said they would love to have our crew back again because we were "hardy" workers.

When we were done, we relaxed at the two picnic tables at the inside curve of Horseshoe Lake. Many of us have served in orienteering start or finish crews at just that spot. Under the oaks we enjoyed a picnic lunch together with Cindy, one of the staff who had led us.

Personally, I found it enjoyable to do physical labor outdoors (I've got a desk job) and to learn from the preserve staff. Each small group worked with a staff person and we were able to chat with them at length while we worked. I learned a bit about efforts to restore the populations of salmon and trout in the nearby creeks, such as San Francisquito Creek. I find it amazing that the creeks of the Peninsula hills can support such large fish.

It took just a few hours to organize this service project -- about 1/10 the effort required to organize a B meet. I encourage other club members to organize service projects at other orienteering venues. I would be happy to advise you.