Science for a Blue Planet

Science for a Blue Planet

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Schoolchildren Plant Pajaro Wildlife Corridor

By | January 15, 2015

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Plant it and they will come.

Schoolchildren recently planted hardy natives like coffeeberry, valley oak, and sycamore on the Upper Pajaro River 30 miles south of San Jose, California, and already bobcat and deer are traversing the corridor.

Wildlife once traveled the river valley south of Gilroy to get to the surrounding mountain ranges. But most of the trees and shrubs they needed for food and shelter are gone—until now.

The first, second, and third graders from Corralitos and Gilroy planted one mile of stream habitat on The Nature Conservancy-owned Gonzales Ranch as part of a three-year project to restore the corridor and connect over one million acres of open space and four mountain ranges. Motion-detector cameras have snapped shots of bobcat, mountain lion, and deer in the area. See a recent news story featuring the project and the wildlife.

Two STRAW students lug one of the new plants. Photo: Emily Kent, The Nature Conservancy

Two STRAW students lug one of the new plants. Photo: Emily Kent, The Nature Conservancy

The kids are part of Point Blue Conservation Science’s STRAW (Students and Teachers Restoring a Watershed) program, which combines in-classroom environmental science teaching with a hands-on habitat restoration project. The plantings are meant to survive the climate conditions the site may experience over the next 100 years.“We selected a wide range of native plants that can survive drought, extreme precipitation and fire while providing resources for wildlife over the entire calendar year,” says John Parodi, STRAW restoration manager for Point Blue. “This site will serve as a demonstration project for other similar plantings in California.”

California's iconic tree, the valley oak, will work well for the Upper Pajaro River planting since it is drought-hardy.

California’s iconic tree, the valley oak, will work well for the Upper Pajaro River planting since it is drought-hardy.

As temperatures and drought have increased in California—including 2014 the hottest on record—wildlife are more challenged to find food, water and shelter. The Gonzales Ranch project is already providing a corridor for wildlife to move between cooler, mountainous areas and find the resources they need for survival.

This project is a partnership between Point Blue, The Nature Conservancy, and the Elkhorn Slough Training Program.

Featured photo thanks to Emily Kent, The Nature Conservancy.

 

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