28 September 2013

Dome Springs Campground

Los Padres National Forest

We head down the mountain in the morning to join with some folks from Habitat Works and take out tamarisk that are invading the Dome Springs area. There are many invasive species trying to crowd out our native plants, but this Asian plant is set apart by its incredible ability to suck water out of the ground. Although capable of surviving without any water for half the year, it takes up water at a rate far in excess of other plants when it can get it. Of course, salts from the ground also come up with the water and the plant tends to increase the salinity of the soil around it, which is part of why it gets called a salt cedar. The soil becomes too salty for other plants long before the tamarisk is bothered.

To get rid of them, we simply cut off the tops. Unfortunately, they are very good at growing back. Spraying herbicide on after will decrease grow back quite well, but just cutting it a few times in the year will eventually be effective. We head out the back side of the campground to the boundary of the Chumash Wilderness and start our hunt of tamarisk by heading up the drainage.

a dry creek in the badlands
Behind Dome Springs Campground, we seem to be in an interesting landscape.

heading up the stream and hunting tamarisk
The hunt for tamarisk, heading up the dry creek.

baby horny toad (it's really a lizard)
It turns out we are traveling with one with very sharp eyes for the horned lizard and get to check out this little guy not much bigger than a quarter.

roots haning down from above
A high bank doesn't keep the vegetation safe when the river flows, as shown by this undercut.

Eventually we come to it with feathery leaves and red bark. The first is quite large, but most are smaller. With saws and loppers, we attack.

chop chop chop
Taking back the land from the invasive species.

It turns out is is not enough to just head up the main creek bed. There are a few taking hold up on the sides where a few small springs are known to be. We don't see the spring when we go up for it, but we find the plants. A few in a small spring area, and a huge clump high up a large tributary arm.

eroded side
There are clues in the land as to where there might be springs, mostly that it seems just a little softer there. It isn't a big clue because the land is very soft here anyway.

far ridge
From high up a stout tributary area, cutting out a large stand of tamarisk, there is quite a view.

Once we've gone as far as tamarisk are known to be, we head back to the start. At this point, I've run out of time before other plans for the day kick in, but the others head over to Nettle Springs Campground to remove one last clump of known tamarisk.

bear tracks
A little evidence of the larger creatures who live here left in the dried mud.

©2013 Valerie Norton
Posted 30 September 2013

No comments: