River Health Day Volunteers

Sq ft Ice Plant Removed

Sq ft of River Bank Revegetated

Each year, CWC organizes River Health Days along the San Lorenzo River. These volunteer events aim to improve riparian habitat by removing or slowing the spread of invasive exotic plants and supporting native plant growth. From August to October 2017, CWC organized eight River Health Days leading 140 volunteers in uprooting iceplant, cutting the seedheads from invasive fennel and pampas grass and planting native blackberry, manzanita, coyote brush, rush and gumweed.

From August to September volunteer cut invasive seedheads from 2,550 square feet of the riparian habitat. In late September, we turned our sights on the ice plant that is starting to take over portions of the lower river. Through the month of October volunteers worked to remove 567 sq ft of ice plant from of the river embankment just upstream of the Laurel Street Bridge. In the cleared areas they planted a mix of native plant species that will increase habitat complexity, provide shelter, and enrich the genetic diversity of the lower river.


Thank you to everyone who made River Health Days possible!

Thanks to the all of the volunteers including those from the California Native Plants Society, Peace United Church of Christ, UCSC Rachel Carson College and Delta Charter High School. Thanks to our partners at the City of Santa Cruz Parks and Recreation and Public Works Departments, and CityServe for your collaboration that made these events possible. Thank to Linda Brodman, Leslie Keedy, and Gary Kittleson for sharing their knowledge of the plant world and habitat restoration and guiding our impactful work.

Finally, we would like to recognize the Helen and Will Webster Foundation and the Monterey Bay Aquarium Research Institute for their support of this work.

Meet our 2017 River Health Day Champions

This fall, two volunteers stood out for their contribution to river habitat. Collectively Ellen and Dennis clocked almost 30 hours along the lower river. They helped with the removal of invasives and revegetation.

Before volunteering, we had already learned a lot about the San Lorenzo River through presentations by Fred McPherson and others. We learned about the important roles that native plants play along the river & creek banks, and how they create habitat for fish and other wildlife.

Our favorite part of volunteering for River Health Days was ripping up the ice plant. The plant is so ubiquitous in California that people are incredulous when they hear that it is invasive. Although it is excellent at erosion control, ice plant is one of the worst exotic plants, completely choking out the natives.

Also, we are very aware of how critical the San Lorenzo River is to the San Lorenzo Valley and Santa Cruz.  It is the sole water source for the entire City of Santa Cruz.  Thoughtful stewardship of the river can continue to provide excellent drinking water, habitat and recreation all the way to the bay.

Ellen and Dennis Sweeney

River Health Day Champions

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