The Mighty Mentors of SLEWS

SLEWS Program | Central Valley | January 27th, 2022

Location of the Field Day:
The Maples

Partners/Landowners:
Yolo County Resource Conservation District
Natural Resources Conservation Service
Point Blue Conservation Science
Yocha Dehe Wintun Nation

Mentors/Volunteers:
Jeanne Wirka, Alex Lintner, Beth DelReal, Heather Lyon, Morgan Caudill, Anna Tolle, Ric Murphy, Sara Lipschutz, Brandi Murphy, Nick Gallagher, Joaquin Pastrana, Grace Ferguson, Amy Williams, and Natalia (SLEWS Intern!)

Accomplishments: 12 native grasses and 86 shrubs/sub-shrubs planted with tubex, bamboo stakes, and fully mulched! 800 feet of drip irrigation installed.

Summary of the Day:
A total of 14 SLEWS mentors and volunteers came together to complete the east hedgerow on The Maples property. Despite the absence of students, we were able to kick off this field day “test run” in the typical SLEWS fashion. Volunteers got the opportunity to engage in a project from start to finish, planting a total of 98 plants complete with drip irrigation, mulch, gopher baskets, tubex, and bamboo stakes. Preparing for the day students return to the field in February, mentors had the opportunity to ask clarifying questions, get to know the partners they would be working with, and of course enjoy the famous SLEWS burritos at the end of the day rewarding all the hard work they had completed.

Thanks to everyone for their contributions! A special thanks to Yolo RCD who helped with the implementation plan and took care of our plants before the long awaited planting day. Additional thanks to NRCS and Yocha Dehe Wintun Nation whose support makes this project possible.

How to outsmart a gopher

The Maples
SLEWS Program | Sacramento Valley | February 3, 2021

Partners/Landowners
Yolo County Resource Conservation District
Center for Land-Based Learning Headquarters at the Maples
Yocha Dehe Wintun Nation

Volunteers
Dominic Carrillo
Miles DaPrato
Irene Loy
Sarah Gaffney
Ric Murphy

Summary of the Day
It always feels great to put the finishing touches on a restoration project, and that was just the plan for our third and final field day at CLBL Headquarters at The Maples. We had planted 205 plants on our first two field days, installing protective tubing and a thick layer of native straw mulch around each plant to finish it off. Since our first field days, native grass seeds had been spread on either side of the pollinator hedgerow.

Our first task on this day was spreading straw over the seeded area. This was tricky – we had to spread the straw thick enough to provide moisture retention benefits, but thin enough to allow sunlight to pass through! As we were working, one of our volunteers with a background in the arts remarked that they had “never worked in this medium before”, and I found this a lovely juxtaposition of science and art.

Once we finished spreading the straw, we headed to the stormwater retention basin, where last season Woodland High School installed native hedgerows, grasses, and forbs. We found that the milkweed that had been planted didn’t do well here – likely due to a very active gopher population! To combat this, this time we planted milkweed rhizomes in “gopher baskets”, small metal baskets buried underground meant to protect the plant’s roots from pests. We planted about 100 showy milkweed rhizomes in these baskets, along with 100 narrowleaf milkweed plugs. Hopefully we have better luck this time around establishing a milkweed population – and therefore creating breeding habitat for monarch butterflies!

The second phase of hedgerows at the Maples

The Maples
SLEWS Program | Sacramento Valley | December 9, 2020

Partners/Landowners
Yolo County Resource Conservation District
Center for Land-Based Learning Headquarters at the Maples
Yocha Dehe Wintun Nation

Volunteers
Miles DaPrato
Sara Bernal
Joel Jorgensen
MJ Farruggia
Katie Wrightson
Ric Murphy
Chris Jadallah
Joel Jorgensen
Corey Shake
Kendra Just
Bri Grosskopf
Ric Murphy
Dominic Carrillo

Summary of the Day
For our first “double header” SLEWS day (two field days in one!), we were at Center for Land-Based Learning Headquarters at the Maples. As you may recall, Woodland High School students participated in a SLEWS project here last year, installing a native plant hedgerow and grasses in the stormwater basin (see the blog posts here: https://landbasedlearning.org/blog/category/slews-program/the-maples/). This year’s project would be somewhat of a continuation of that project, a hedgerow and native grassland perpendicular to that site and extending around an adjacent ag field.

We began the day by installing an irrigation system, working as a team to lay out the irrigation line and install emitters. We followed by planting 205 native plants in the very dry soil – we had to use pickaxes in order to loosen the ground enough to plant! Many of these plants were planted in metal baskets to protect the roots from pesky gophers. We also installed a protective tube around each plant to protect it from wind, herbicides, and pests. The morning volunteer crew got through about two thirds of the planting before the afternoon crew arrived to finish up. Then we began on the next task – mulching! Yolo County RCD had strategically placed native grass straw bales along the hedgerow, and we applied a thick layer of mulch around each plant to assist with moisture retention and prevent weed growth. Finally, to prepare for the native grass seeding to come in a few weeks, we cleared a bunch of cobblestones from an area they had been discarded. Looking forward to watching this hedgerow mature right outside our office doors!