When we started pulling French broom along the Bay Trail at Pt. Isabel in 2007, our primary objective was to eliminate an invasive plant that was reducing the habitat value of one of the East Bay’s important Pacific Flyway resting stops. As our work expanded from the area near the dog park and more volunteers came to help, we found ourselves able to replace the other non-native plants (cape ivy, Algerian ivy, fennel, radish, mustard, ice plant, asparagus, vinca, grasses) with native plants we found along the trail (sagebrush, toyon, coffee berry, elderberry, buckeye, native grasses). The work is greatly enhanced by longtime volunteer Rob Kirby, who cleans up trash on a consistent basis and prevents it from contaminating Hoffman Marsh. His work also ensures that the area near the dog park always looks well maintained.
The result of these efforts has been a much healthier habitat that has made Pt. Isabel a real destination for a variety of birds and other creatures. At our June 4 work party, John Kenny continued his terrific work clearing all the oat grass from the marsh edge, opening up the Salicornia pacifica (pickleweed), Jaumea carnosa (marsh jaumea), Frankenia salina (alkali heath), and Limonium californicum (sea lavender). While pulling out the grass, John spotted a bat ray (Mylobatis californica) swimming along the edge of the marsh. Later in June, we spotted a beautiful striped skunk (Mephitis mephitis) sheltering under one of the young Aesculus californica (buckeye trees) we planted a few years ago and a stately Great Blue Heron (Ardea herodias) showed up choosing a hunting site slightly apart from those of the visiting snowy egrets (Egretta thula).
And speaking of visitors, on May 26 we hosted a special work party with 8 charming (and extremely hard working) Japanese college students and their chaperone, Joe, from the English Studies Institute (ESI) in Berkeley. Four Pt. Isabel core volunteers/stewards showed up and each worked with two of the students pulling invasive radish and oat grass and going over many new words in the process. What is pollen? one of them asked. Gudrun showed everyone the pollen in a California poppy and explained that pollen is protein for our bumblebees. Throughout the work party we were delighted to see the students pull out their notebooks, ask us for the spelling, and write down all the new words. At the end, we took 15 huge bags of invasive plants up to the weed pile. It was one of our super successful and fun work parties and we thank Stephen Dalton from ESI for arranging it with us.
The Pt. Isabel Restoration Team holds work parties the first and third Saturdays of every month from 9:30 am to 2 pm. Contact Tom Kelly at firstname.lastname@example.org for details.
Thanks as always to the EBRPD and to CNPS East Bay for all the support given to this project. And if you haven’t visited the area, please come out and we’ll give you a little tour.
Jane and Tom Kelly