A team of hard working partners recently planted thousands of grass plants on a coastal prairie overlooking the Pacific Ocean in Northern California, contributing to an ongoing effort to restore 850 acres of grassland that has been impacted by encroaching shrubs and Douglas-fir trees.
Partners work along a ridge overlooking the Pacific, planting grass plants to restore a coastal prairie. (Photo by Sonny Anderson, BLM volunteer)
Staff from the local Mattole Restoration Council worked with the Americorps Watershed Stewardship Project, applying eight species of grass seed and planting 30,000 plugs of six grass species over 18 acres of BLM-managed public land on Prosper Ridge near the community of Petrolia. Neighborhood volunteers and community contractors had previously cleared shrubs and young trees from the restoration site.
A worker prepares a site for planting grass plant plugs. (Photo by Sonny Anderson, BLM volunteer)
Through this effort, BLM is enhancing the proportion of deep-rooted, native perennial grasses compared to non-native, annual and perennial grass species of lesser value.
A project participant plants grass plugs in coastal prairie restoration work at Prosper Ridge, a public land area managed by the BLM Arcata Field Office. (Photo by Sonny Anderson, BLM volunteer)
Native plants were locally developed and annually propagated as part of the BLM Arcata Field Office’s participation with the BLM Seeds of Success program. BLM botanist Jennifer Wheeler has been directing the program and attributes success to a cooperative partnership with the Mattole Restoration Council, a local non-profit group focusing on various aspects of watershed restoration in the Mattole watershed and adjacent areas in the King Range National Conservation Area.
The work now ongoing at Prosper Ridge is the result of about 13 years of close community coordination and planning that resulted in the Prosper Ridge Prairie Plan. The plan helps BLM meet one of the primary goals and objectives of the King Range National Conservation Area Resource Management Plan (2005) to “maintain healthy, productive grasslands to encourage native species abundance and diversity.”
Shrubs and young Douglas-fir trees were removed from the treatment sites and piled for later burning in the project to restore grasslands at Prosper Ridge. (Photo by Sonny Anderson, BLM volunteer)
There are several phases in the restoration project. The project began with mechanical removal of coyote brush and young Douglas-fir trees in predefined units to build buffer areas to meet community safety expectations and reduce fuel loads. After several years of treatment, the BLM will use prescribed fire, timing the broadcast burns to maintain the area as a productive grassland.
Throughout the woody vegetation removal process, disturbed soil areas will be sown with native seed and clovers, and/or planted with native bunchgrass plugs to establish new colonies capable of their own reproduction and expansion.