Many consider springtime the most enjoyable season to enjoy the Peninsula’s open spaces. Cool ocean breezes and warm sunshine paired with colorful hillsides and scenic coastal vistas make for pleasant hikes and family outings. Spring is when the Peninsula’s birds are raising families of nestlings and the butterflies and bees emerge to feed on nectar-filled flowers.
Last year’s abundant rainfall (19 inches!) helped to relieve many effects of the five-year drought, resulting in a super bloom of flowers and plants. Unfortunately, precipitation is well below average this season, measuring less than two inches from July 2017-January 2018 (the average rainfall is 7-8 inches for the same time period), although we still hope to benefit from early spring showers to help revive vegetation and alleviate drought effects on native plants.
Land Conservancy staff and volunteers are busy preparing for spring. At Alta Vicente Reserve, 311 community volunteers, AmeriCorps service youth and Conservancy staff planted approximately 15,000 coastal sage scrub natives, including many varieties of wildflowers, from November through January. Additionally, Adopt-a-Plot volunteers have been busily planting and weeding habitat to promote the recovery of endangered populations of Palos Verdes blue butterfly and El Segundo blue butterfly at Chandler, Lunada Canyon and Vicente Bluffs Reserves. To support these efforts, the PV/South Bay Audubon recently made a grant to two interns for restoration planting at these sites.
A dedicated group of Conservancy Volunteer Trail Watch (VTW) members traverse the Preserve to provide visitors with information about the land’s natural history and the importance of appropriate trail use. In January a two-day VTW training orientation welcomed 20 new interested volunteers, who will join 20 current active members. These volunteers provide critical support to staff and the City’s enforcement in the Preserve and serve as a friendly point of contact for trail users who may need directions or assistance, particularly as visitation increases during the spring and summer.
The Conservancy’s Trail Crew is growing as well, with the addition of 17 new volunteers trained in February to assist with trail maintenance and repair projects in the preserves. Trail Crew members, in coordination with Conservancy and City of RPV staff, have worked to repair and reopen several trails damaged as a result of above-average rainfall in the 2016-2017 winter season. Additionally, Rapid Response volunteers are working alongside Conservancy staff each week to enhance the trail system by closing unauthorized spur trails and improving wayfinding signage. These efforts may largely go unnoticed by the average visitor, but the results of this work significantly enhance trail user experience and provide native habitat for wildlife that, without this protection, might be trampled.
The White Point Nature Preserve’s demonstration garden is buzzing with activity this spring, thanks to a Vince Conze Grant from the California Native Plant Society’s South Coast Chapter. Using the demonstration garden as a training location, the grant will fund a two-year apprentice program for young adults to cultivate horticultural skills and a passion for native plants. This generous support will help trainees develop a deeper understanding of native plant restoration and will encourage further study and career interest in botany, horticulture or similar environmental fields. As an added bonus, the extra work will beautify the garden!