California Colonizers Left Their Mark: It's Time for Us to Fix It

Saturday, January 10, 2015

As I write this, it's mid-December, and everyone I know couldn't be happier about the series of storms that have helped lessen the effects of the drought.

Unfortunately, "everyone" includes the millions of invasive weed seeds waiting along the Rockridge Temescal Greenbelt for just such rains so they can sprout and take over. And have they ever!

Many of these weeds are the descendants of plants that came to California in the fodder and digestive tracts of horses and cattle brought from Spain to Mexico in the 16th and 17th centuries, and from Mexico to California in the 18th century. They adapted to a climate similar to that in Spain, but with a very different strategy. Native California grasses are generally perennials that grow in a clump with deep roots; they're called bunch grasses. Bunch grasses stay green year 'round, and take advantage of deep soil moisture to carry them over the summers. The invaders are annuals that sprout with the arrival of winter rains, produce massive numbers of seeds in late spring, then die. The storied "golden hills of California" are due to these non-natives; the earlier landscape was a pale green all year.

These weeds, and the winds that accompanied the storms, have left the bed of Temescal Creek and the Greenbelt weedy and leaf-choked. The leaves are especially a problem at the grates and pipes that channel the creek since they can cause clogs and backups.

The DMV Neighbors Association is sponsoring a work party Saturday, January 24, 9 to 11 a.m., to rake up the leaves, clear out some of the invasive plants, and pick up trash.

All ages are welcome. Come meet up with neighbors and have fun making the creek a pretty place for early spring. Sign in at the corner of Cavour Street and Redondo Avenue, by the big eucalyptus. Gloves and tools will be provided (or bring your own, well-marked). Hot coffee and morning snacks will be available at the sign-up table. Rain cancels.