Planting Graminoids!


Yesterday and today, we achieved a big milestone in the Copeland Creek riparian restoration project: putting in some native plants! For this first phase of planting, we started out with grasses, rushes, and sedges (collectively known as “graminoids”), all of them planted near the spot we call Snowberry Corner.

The plants were cultivated here on campus, by the Native Plant Propagation class – they provided us with more plants than we were able to get into the ground! Here they are in the greenhouse, the day before our first planting day:

On Friday, first thing, I sent part of my Restoration Ecology class to retrieve the plants from the greenhouse, while the “surveying team” marked out some plots, all roughly 800 meters square. They were marked with PVC piping – these would become our permanent zones, to help us track survivorship. We’ll keep track of how many plants were planted in each zone, and in future years we’ll be able to come back and monitor their progress.

Map showing the newly established plots. The large building in the lower left quadrant of the photo is the Environmental Technology Center.

(A more detailed map can be found here:

Finally, we were ready to start planting! In the drier area close to the bike path, we put in mostly native grasses – Blue Wild Rye (Elymus glaucus), and Beardless Wild Rye (Elymus triticoides). To the east, and back a bit from the path, there’s an area that retains more moisture throughout the year, so we’re treating it as a seasonal wetland. In those areas, we put in mostly Santa Barbara Sedge (Carex sp), and Juncus.

Alongside the planting, we also grubbed out a bunch of Himalayan blackberry. I did most of the grubbing (so my students could focus on planting, which is arguably more fun).

We made some great progress on Friday, but since there were still plants left unplanted, a smaller group of students offered to come in on Saturday morning, and help me get even more plants in the ground:

Dream Team: Wendy, Desirae, Audrey, and Jesica

In addition to the planting, we also constructed a little woodpile out of sight behind a slight hill. Partly, we wanted to clear away some branches from the wetland meadow area, but we also took the opportunity to build it up around a small California blackberry plant, to give it some support as it grows.

Even though we didn’t get every single plant into the ground, I’m thrilled with the progress we made. Look at all these precious baby plants in the ground, ready to grow:

The final touch: a string of yellow flagging tape all around the Snowberry Corner area. That’s an area where joggers and bicyclists like to cut through, rather than staying on the path. So, we put up some tape to discourage this type of “foot” traffic while the plants are getting established.

A little bit of pedestrian protection.

Such great progress! Looking forward to watching them grow.


Salmonid Field Trip

Restoration Ecology’s final field trip of the Fall, 2016 semester was a wonderful adventure in the redwoods, looking at restoration projects aimed at restoring habitat for salmonid fishes, including chinook and coho salmon. Our hosts for the day were Sarah Phillips of the Marin Resource Conservation Department (RCD), Erik Young, a lawyer affiliated with Trout Unlimited, and Eric Ettlinger of the Marin Water District. Each of them shared with us a different perspective on the creek, and how restoration projects happen.

We started out in the Leo T. Cronin parking area for a brief introduction, and then we headed a bit downstream of the lot for our first close-up look at Lagunitas Creek.


There was an exciting moment at Lagunitas Creek, when a chinook salmon was spotted splashing around in the rapids – possibly digging out a redd in which to lay her eggs.

Next, we headed to Devil’s Gulch, where we ate our lunch, and learned more about the restoration work that’s being done on the creek. Primarily, we learned about the importance of installing woody debris, to restore “complexity” to the creek, which in turn provides a variety of habitat types that salmon (and other organisms) need in order to thrives. There’s a great article on the work that was done here in 2015 on the Trout Unlimited website.

One of the highlights of my day was seeing some old growth redwood trees. One of them had a hollow inside that was large enough to hold several people at one time.

If you’d like to read more about our day, some of my students wrote about this excursion on our Restoration Ecology Blog: Coming Together for the Coho Salmon, and Salmon Crossing.