This past weekend I helped to run a Surfers Point Workday with The Surfrider Foundation just before the big Hands Across the Sand event. We were privileged to have Dave Hubbard of Coastal Restoration Consultants Inc. Join us and lead the volunteers on which invasive plants we would be eradicating that day.
“We had a really nice day at Surfer’s Point on Saturday. Excellent Surfrider logistics. Great volunteers. Lots of education and outreach time mixed in. We mopped 99.9% of the remaining sea rocket across the entire dune restoration site, also weeded tumbleweed, iceplant, non-native chrysanthemum, some grasses and misc. weeds. The timing worked out really well. The sea rocket seeds were not ripe yet, so we got them before they dropped.”
If you are not familiar with Sea Rocket this picture shows you who our main target was that day. Sea Rocket likes to grow in the native Beach Burr. It is very clever little sucker in that it has made itself look almost exactly like the native Beach Burr with the exception that is has a 4 petaled lavender flower and is more green than the Beach Burr, which has a yellow flower when it blooms.
I’ve recently been interested in the principles and ideas of Permaculture, but in permaculture they say there is no such thing as an invasive or a weed, that all things are beneficial, right? So I was curious about how Dave felt about this. He told me that when it comes to restoration of certain areas, there just isn’t room for plants that aren’t going to do the work like our natives. They are the true bio engineers of land and they know this land better than we do and certainly better than plants that come from an entirely different climate and ecosystem. It was fascinating talking to him about the importance of these Dune restoration projects not just from a stand point of the value for plants, and the animals that call these places home but even the benefits they have for us humans. He said he had recently gone to New Jersey, where there are dune areas so protected that if you step on them it’s an automatic $1000 fine. The amazing thing is, that during hurricane Sandy, houses that were behind these dune protected areas were left undamaged during and after the storm, whereas those houses in areas where sand is moved around and there is no vegetation to protect them were completely destroyed. With things like sea level rise and potential future storms, having dune ecosystems that with all their native plants have the ability to hold onto sand could prevent a lot of damage in our costal cities. In the Case of Surfers Point part of the goal was to prevent further erosion to an already crumbling bike path.
Overall, the workday it was a great success and something Surfrider will continue to monitor and take care of for years to come along with the City of Ventura.
As Dave said, luckily there are not too many plants that can survive in salty, nutrient-poor, well-drained, beach sand but our beaches are not the only places where plants from out of town don’t belong. To learn more about Invasive Plants you can go to the Cal IPC Website to find out definitions of an invasive as well as impact. This and other websites like Plant Right also provide you with lists and pictures of plants that are considered invasive and why.
It’s time we really start working with Nature and really think about the impact we are having. You know how they say when camping or backpacking or even hiking that the ethical thing to do is to leave no trace? Pack it in, pack it out? That’s a practice I think we should have in our everyday lives and especially when we are thinking of our landscapes.