We had another Canyon Walk at Lunada Canyon on Saturday. As I mentioned last month, there seems to be a problem with maintenance in the canyon. We started doing our walks in June 2007 and though I have not been able to go on every walk, I always take my camera along to shoot photos of the plants and the general condition of things. The following photos of this one part of the upper path reveals the problems of maintaining a "natural" setting and the struggle natives must face to survive, never mind propagate.
The restoration and new plantings of natives in the canyon took place in 2004 and 2005. According to a 2005 report on the canyon by the PVLC, approximately 660 hours of donated time were given by volunteers, including high school students. The section of the trail in my photographs was worked on by two Eagle Scouts and a Gold Award candidate. 900+ native plants were planted in the canyon as a whole including California Sunflower, Encelia californica; Black and Purple Sage, Salvia mellifera and leucophylla; Coastal Goldenbush, Isocoma menziesii; California Buckwheat, Eriogonum fasciculatum; and California Poppy, Eschscholzia californica along this path. Down in the bottom of the canyon they planted Mugwort, Artemisia douglasiana which can be seen in the above photo.
The report acknowledges that constant maintenance would be required due to the fact that prior to the restoration we had record rainfalls and the weeds were very abundant. Weedeaters, chainsaws, and a riparian-accepted herbicide were used to clear the area before planting and the trails were cleared of weeds again in March and June of 2005. We have seen volunteers working on the lower trail to remove the Sweet Fennel, Foeniculum vulgare, and Black Mustard, Brassica nigra.
We "inherited" the canyon in pretty good condition as the top photo shows. The native plants were doing well and holding their own. But after the rains of 2008, weeds started to take over again. Even some of the natives (particularly the Lemonadeberry, Rhus integrifolia) were encroaching on the path. In March of this year the new growth started to obscure the path, and now it has all but disappeared. People are making their own path through the weeds and around the larger plants, but this is not the original path. It is even dangerous in one spot because you can't see the ground and people have gone down the side of the canyon.
A lot of backbreaking work will now be required if the canyon is to remain open to the public.
But there is good news. Demonstrating that the natives are a very hardy bunch, here is a photo of a Bladderpod, Isomeris arborea, taken in July of 2008, and the same plant as we saw it on Saturday. And there are two new little Bladderpod plants now on the other side of the path.