San Gregorio Environmental Resource Center (SGERC) has officially adopted San Gregorio State Beach through the Adopt-A-Beach program. SGERC will hold three cleanup events each year and promote awareness of the benefits of a healthy beach and marine environment. SGERC has been site captain for the annual Coastal Cleanup Day for more than a decade, and continued the tradition this year with a hugely successful cleanup of the beach and surrounding area this September.
More than 30 people participated in San Gregorio’s cleanup, which brought in 79 pounds of trash, 14 pounds of recyclables, and 20 tires! One individual deserves extra EXTRA credit for arranging for these tires to be brought up from the beach just north of San Gregorio. In San Mateo County, 4,920 volunteers picked up 27,813 lbs of trash and 4,534 lbs of recyclables. In California, preliminary results show more than 53,000 people volunteered, picking up 698,931 lbs of trash and 35,674 lbs of recyclables!
Most unusual items found in San Mateo County include a marijuana chocolate bar, a Jimmy Buffet book, an Apple laptop, a bag full of knee and leg braces, and 21,000 cigarette butts picked up by the Pacifica Beach Coalition. Most unusual items in the state; in Marin County a volunteer found a painting of a marsh, in a marsh. In Los Angeles County a volunteer found a Coca-Cola can from 1963.
On the one hand, it’s too bad this much litter is left behind, but on the other hand volunteers enjoy the rewards and immediate results of their efforts to keep our beaches and landscape healthy and beautiful. Consider volunteering at one of SGERC’s future beach cleanups. The next will be in April 2019 to celebrate Earth Day, and another will follow the 4thof July weekend. Watch their website for more information on cleanup events.
(Also published in The La Honda Voice, September 2018.)
Now that the Kick Pampass sheriffs have rounded up most of the Jubata plants in town, a new invasive has arrived to challenge the authorities. Dittricia graveolens (aka Stinkwort) is rapidly moving onto roadsides and pastures all around the Peninsula. Stinkwort is a short, yellow-flowered annual blooming in late Sept.-Oct.
Few plants have been spotted in La Honda or San Gregorio, but the Pampas team has turned its attention to identifying and removing Stinkwort before it gains a toehold in our area. One local horse pasture with a sizeable infestation is being tackled by the owner and our team this month, hopefully before the plants flower. Even now, the horses get sticky foliage on them causing issues with their hair.
A native of southern Europe, Stinkwort grows to about 3 ft. tall with sticky and aromatic foliage. These invasives take advantage of disturbed soils, roadsides, overgrazed pastures, drained wetlands, washouts, service line corridors, etc. Removal is quite easy either by cutting or pulling (in soft soil) or using a rogue hoe or pick axe. If cut or pulled before flowering, the plant can be composted in place and will not return the following year. Once buds have formed, all plants should be bagged since viable seeds will still develop from the pulled plants. The life of the seeds is about 2 years.
Be on the lookout, and either remove plants yourself, or report to the appropriate authorities (in this case, San Gregorio Environmental Resource Center firstname.lastname@example.org or 650 726-2499). As always, feel free to contact us for assistance in removal of Pampas, Jubata or Stinkwort on your property or volunteer to join our team. Our enthusiastic volunteers love seeing native plants have a chance to thrive in the San Gregorio watershed.
(Also published in The La Honda Voice, August 2018.)
Fourth grade students from La Honda Elementary recently took a field trip to study stream and lagoon environments. They visited two very different sites, and observed habitat and performed water quality tests at both locations.
The first site was on La Honda Creek at Playbowl. This is a densely wooded area with meandering creek and good spawning gravels and water quality. The creek had good flow due to ongoing rains, making it a great time to measure turbidity (water clarity), air and water temperature, water depth, conductivity (salinity), and pH.
The students used data sheets to record observations and test results. Observations included weather conditions, flow rate in the creek, woody debris, habitat conditions such as boulders, gravels and fish barriers. No fish were observed, but students were able to see both artificial and natural structures in the stream channel. Natural structures don’t often create barriers to fish passage, but artificial ones can.
Stream monitors from the San Gregorio Environmental Resource Center (SGERC) guided students through the use of basic water sampling equipment. Turbidity, or the cloudiness of the water, was measured by comparing black dots in the bottom of cylindrical tubes of water. One tube holds creek water, the other holds clear water while units of a clay reagent are added until the clarity of the black dots match in both tubes. Meters and probes were used to measure temperature and conductivity. pH was measured with a test kit that adds reagent to the creek water sample, which is then compared to a color wheel to determine pH level.
A short journey to San Gregorio State Beach, and we were able to observe a completely different environment, but one that is crucial to fish survival – the lagoon. Everyone read and discussed the interpretive panel at this location that describes proper lagoon function and the species that depend on it. In addition to learning the role the sandbar plays in the mix of fresh and salt water, we talked about the harm of artificially breaching it, and how that can disrupt an entire fish-rearing season.
Since the weather continued to be cold and rainy, we repaired to the San Gregorio Store to complete our basic water quality tests. We also measured Dissolved Oxygen in the water, a critical parameter for fish survival. After completing measurements and filling out our data sheets, it was time for lunch!
SGERC would like to thank the teachers, parents, students, and principal of La Honda Elementary for their efforts to make this field trip possible. We’d also like to thank Cuesta La Honda Guild and California State Parks for permission to visit these sites, and also George Cattermole and CWC for support and funding. This program was sponsored by SGERC as part of their education programs and continuing efforts to monitor and improve conditions in the San Gregorio Watershed.
(Also published in The La Honda Voice, March 2018.)
Students from Ms. Schoelen’s 5th grade class at Pescadero Elementary took a field trip to the San Gregorio Watershed recently to study stream and lagoon environments. They visited two sites, and had the opportunity to perform water quality tests at two very different locations.
The first site was on La Honda Creek at Playbowl. This is a densely wooded area with meandering creek and good spawning gravels and water quality. Stream flow was low prior to winter rains, making it a good time for students to safely measure air and water temperature, turbidity, conductivity (salinity), and pH.
The fifth graders were provided data sheets on which to record observations as well as results of their testing. Observations include weather conditions, flow rate in the creek, woody debris, habitat conditions such as boulders, gravels and fish barriers. No fish were observed, but students were able to see both artificial and natural structures in the stream channel. Natural structures don’t normally create a barrier to fish passage, but artificial ones can.
Stream monitors from the San Gregorio Environmental Resource Center (SGERC) guided students through the instruction and use of basic sampling equipment. Turbidity, or the cloudiness of the water, can be observed by looking at a Secchi disk in the bottom of a long tube of water. Meters and probes were used to measure temperature and conductivity. pH was measured with a test kit that adds reagent to the water sample, and is then compared to a color wheel to determine pH level.
Before leaving Playbowl there was time for a quick game of tag in the woods.
A short bus trip to San Gregorio State Beach, and we were able to observe a completely different environment, but one that is crucial to fish survival – the lagoon. SGERC recently assisted in the installation of an interpretive panel at this location that describes proper lagoon function and the species that depend on it. This was a good place to begin this visit. In addition to discussing the importance of the sandbar and the complicated environment and interface of fresh to salt water, students were able to repeat their basic water quality sampling. Also at this site more sophisticated monitoring equipment was shown, and a quick demonstration of Dissolved Oxygen measurement, a critical parameter for fish survival.
After sampling and observations were completed, it was lunchtime!
SGERC would like to thank the teachers, parents, students, and principal of Pescadero Elementary for their efforts to make this field trip possible. We’d also like to thank Cuesta La Honda Guild and California State Parks for permission to visit these sites, and also George Cattermole and CWC for transportation funding. This program was sponsored by SGERC as part of their education programs and continuing efforts to monitor and improve conditions in the San Gregorio Watershed.
(Also published in The La Honda Voice, November 2017.)
Thanks to everyone who participated in Coastal Cleanup Day, either at the beach or in their neighborhood. More than 30 volunteers helped at San Gregorio State Beach and picked up 153 gallons of trash and 66 gallons of recyclables! There were also efforts at nearby beaches including Pomponio and Tunitas Creek. Judging from all the smiling faces, everyone really enjoys this effort, which yields immediate results. You not only see the amount of trash you have collected, you see the difference in the area you have left behind.
There are cleanup efforts throughout the year, so you don't have to wait until September to help out. There are monthly cleanups at Tunitas Creek, occasional cleanup days in Cuesta La Honda, and our Adopt-A-Highway program that picks up trash along Hwy. 84. Contact us for more info at email@example.com, or go to our website sgerc.org.
(Also published in The La Honda Voice, September 2017.)
San Gregorio Environmental Resource Center (SGERC) invites you to join us at San Gregorio State Beach on Coastal Cleanup Day, September 16th from 9:00 AM - 12:00 PM. This is an annual event sponsored by the California Coastal Commission.
Also visit the beautiful new interpretative panel installed at the beach near the picnic area. This panel describes how artificial breaching of the lagoon affects wildlife, and introduces you to a number of the fish and birds that live in this important habitat. We’ll be on hand to provide information about the lagoon and sandbar, and how to help keep this environment healthy.
SGERC sponsored this interpretative panel, installed with the help of our local office of California State Parks. If you are interested in helping offset the cost of this panel, or any of our programs, you can make a tax-deductible contribution by visiting our website: www.sgerc.org (Tax ID # 94-3083465), or donate at this event. Our activities include a monthly stream monitoring program at several locations in the watershed (now in its 17th year), a watershed education program with local schools that is just beginning, Adopt-a-Highway litter removal on Hwy. 84, and pampas/jubata grass removal throughout La Honda and San Gregorio.
If you are interested in participating in any of these projects, or would like to propose further projects which enhance the health of the local watershed. Please send an email with your contact detail to: firstname.lastname@example.org.
On Coastal Cleanup Day, tons of trash and recyclables are removed from beaches, streams, parks, schools, and other areas across California with the help of community volunteers. Last year in San Mateo County, 4,145 volunteers picked up more than 22,000 pounds of trash and nearly 4,000 pounds of recyclables. The most common items are cigarette butts and tobacco products, food wrappers, paper and plastic bags, glass and plastic bottles, beverage cans, and construction materials. SGERC will have all the necessary supplies including reusable gloves and buckets. If you like, bring your own sturdy gloves and bucket to help reduce waste from the event. Wear sturdy shoes and dress in layers since the weather can be unpredictable. We will have refreshments for volunteers.
Children welcome! We look forward to seeing you at the beach!
More info at:
https://www.coastal.ca.gov/publiced/ccd/cleanup/ - /map
(Also published in The La Honda Voice, August 2017.)
It’s hard to see what’s not there! As you drive along our coast, it’s easy to see Jubata/Pampas grass taking over hillsides and ranges. What’s harder to see is when it’s NOT there. Look along La Honda Rd. between the coast and La Honda. Also look along Stage Rd. between the General Store and Highway 1. You will not see Jubata/Pampas grass growing along the roadway (except for a few unsafe to reach).
That’s due to the efforts of the “Kick Pampass” team, a dedicated bunch of volunteers in the community interested in keeping invasive grasses from taking over San Gregorio Valley. The spread had become all too evident, particularly along Stage Rd., where over 430 plants were recently removed. On Hwy. 84 between La Honda and San Gregorio nearly 100 plants have been removed. On private property in Cuesta, La Honda and San Gregorio more than 100 plants have been removed. This was done entirely using manual methods, no herbicides.
Most would agree these are beautiful ornamental grasses. Pampasgrass from South America was sold in nurseries for decades. Without nearby male plants, female pampas can be kept under control. Jubata grass, on the other hand, spreads like crazy on it’s own. This is the grass that predominantly populates the coast from San Diego northward. It’s an invasive opportunist, crowds out native plants, and affects the ecology and wildlife that depend on native species.
There are alternatives! Check out ornamental grasses at Yerba Buena Nursery or California Invasive Plant Council web sites, or search for non-invasive ornamental grass:
What can you do? The next phase for our Kick Pampass team will be to help landowners interested in removing plants from their property. If you have plants you‘d like removed, or have interested neighbors, feel free to contact us. In addition, this is the time of year that tall seed heads develop. If you see plants we've missed, please let us know. You may want to join us! You can reach Neil at: (650) 726-2499 or email@example.com.
Many thanks to our hard-working Pampass team: Liz, Gary, Ellen, Denis, Jane, Ellen, Hilary, Sasha, George and Neil – plus the many landowners who have allowed access to their properties or taken steps to eliminate the plants themselves! We also thank Cuesta La Honda, Caltrans, State Parks and the County of San Mateo for permission to remove plants on their property or right-of-ways.
(Also published in The La Honda Voice, October 2016.)
Volunteers wanted to remove Pampas & Jubata Grass from our San Gregorio Valley.
Let’s control these grasses so they won’t spread as they have in Pescadero, Half Moon Bay, and along the coast. SGERC has received permission from Caltrans to control and remove invasive Pampas and Jubata grass along Hwy. 84 between Hwy. 1 and La Honda. If you’re interested in helping with this project, please contact Neil Panton, (650) 854-8038 or firstname.lastname@example.org.
We use manual methods, no chemicals. We plan to clear the Hwy. 84 corridor, but since a number of plants exist on private property as well, we’d like to help interested landowners remove these invasive plants from their property. For those who’d like to keep ornamental grasses on their property, there are several non-invasive alternatives, like these suggested by the Native Plants Society and Yerba Buena Nursery:
Anyone 16 years or older can participate. We’ll schedule several morning work days over the coming year beginning in April. All safety and other training will be provided. Removal of seed heads is the first step in preventing further spread. Next we cut back vegetation to control plant growth, and finally remove the plant. Smaller plants come out in a few minutes. Larger, established plants take more effort, but can be removed with pick axe and shovel. The root balls are amazingly small and shallow considering the size of these plants.
The biggest concentration of plants is around the 2.0 and 3.0 mile markers on La Honda Rd. With team effort, we should be able to remove the remaining plants along the highway in short order. After that, we just monitor for new growth.
Feel free to pass this information along to anyone you think may be interested. We can use help on work crews, communicating with neighbors, and identifying remaining plants in the watershed. With your help, we should be able to remove Pampas and Jubata grass from San Gregorio and La Honda completely in a year or two. As one of our community leaders says “It Takes a Village”! We look forward to hearing from you!
(Also published in The La Honda Voice, February 2016.)
Many consider Pampas grass (Cortaderia jubata) to be an ornamental, and it is. Although it can be quite beautiful, it’s also extremely invasive, and can take over coastal and grassland sites. There is plenty of evidence of this along the Coast Highway and Pescadero Creek and Bean Hollow Rds. When controlled or confined, it can be a lovely plant, but its seeds travel over long distances, and each plume can produce up to a hundred thousand seeds! The plant thrives on bare soils, and takes advantage of drought conditions when other plants have trouble surviving.
We’re seeing more of this perennial along Hwy 84 and Stage Rd. in La Honda and San Gregorio, and because of it prolific seed production and highly competitive nature, it may not be long before our roadsides and slopes are taken over by this grass. Once they’re established, removal of the plant can be quite a bit of work, but controlling the spread can be as simple as removing the plumes before they go to seed in late summer or early fall.
If you’d like to help control this invasive grass in our watershed, or have plants on your property controlled or removed, please contact SGERC at email@example.com or call Neil Panton at (650) 854-8038.
(Also published in The La Honda Voice, October 2015.)
The San Gregorio Environmental Resource Center (SGERC) is seeking an Executive Director to manage a community-based non-profit organization. SGERC volunteers monitor the San Gregorio watershed’s physical characteristics to assure its ability to support steelhead and, potentially, salmon. The data collected over the past 25 years have been used in studies by Stillwater Sciences to develop a Watershed Management Plan (WMP), which is posted on our web site (http://www.sgerc.org). Completed in 2010, the WMP contains scientifically supported recommendations for a variety of potential steelhead and Coho habitat enhancement projects. A dedicated group of volunteers continues to collect water quality data at five locations within the watershed.
As an ideal candidate, you would have substantial knowledge in watershed and fish ecology, and demonstrate a passion for leading the strategic planning, development and execution of watershed projects. You would be adept at writing grant proposals in order to support the ongoing stream monitoring program and fund your Executive Director salary.
The role of the Executive Director of SGERC:
There is an active core group of dedicated volunteers available to help with many of these tasks.
The San Gregorio watershed on the San Mateo County coast is the southernmost California watershed where Coho salmon were historically found to spawn. With approximately 45 miles of blue line streams, the watershed still attracts steelhead trout and tide water gobies and empties into a lagoon which is their year round habitat and portal to the sea. Agriculture, housing, and Hwy 84, all introduce challenges to maintaining a clean watershed which is inviting to steelhead, and which allows adult populations to find the depth and oxygenation of water adequate for their spawning needs. San Gregorio is one of nine priority creeks selected by CDFG for Coho salmon reintroduction.
For more information, please visit our website: http://www.sgerc.org
Send a resume and letter of interest to:
PO Box 49
San Gregorio CA, 94074
Email: Neil Panton – firstname.lastname@example.org or Michael Braude - MABraude@aol.com
Protecting the San Gregorio Watershed.