Last Saturday Oct. 18 we kicked off the planting season by planting native grasses (Aristida purpurea- purple three-awn grass and Stipa cernua- nodding needle grass). Both of these types of grasses are perennial bunch grasses that are native to Southern California. The morning was cloudy with rays of sunlight beaming down on the Mesa and wetlands- quite beautiful. I had gone out earlier in the morning to flag some very young grass we had planted the previous season. The first thing we did was build berms around those grasses to make sure we didn’t accidentally dig them up or stomp on them. We had our dear friends from Alcoa join us that morning along with some scout troops and students from Cerritos College with professor Boardman.
We were pretty lucky given that there hasn’t been any rain because the ground was not as hard as cement like in previous years. It was still pretty hard, but you could get a shovel through it. I had the Jr. Stewards work in their designated area for the first part of the morning, and then they came and helped the rest of the group plant. The rest of the group was split in two: one group to water and the other group to build berms and plant. One area we planted was in what we call the Green Rectangle, because it is outlined with green stakes. Last season we had a group of high school seniors dedicate that school year to work in the area. That area is also part of a bigger study with the CA Dept. of Fish and Wildlife.
During the morning we saw an Osprey (Pandion haliaetus) dive into the water after fish and a Reddish Egret (Egretta rufescens) flying back and forth over us. Some of the ducks like Buffleheads (Bucephala albeola) have made their way down to Bolsa Chica from their migratory trip from Canada and can be seen swimming in the bays.
All in all we had 69 volunteers including our core Stewards and Jr. Stewards. Together we were able to plant 400 grasses, and with cat litter jugs to transport the water, we were able to water the native plants with 2,000 gallons of water.