The invasive plant Clematis vitalba can overwhelm even the largest of trees. (Photo: Ian Bonarth)

DAVENPORT >> This week, Sempervirens Fund will begin work with Peninsula Open Space Trust (POST), Save the Redwoods League and the California Department of Fish and Wildlife to treat and control the invasive Clematis vitalba (Clematis) on 30 acres of watershed within the San Vicente Redwoods property, a large, park-sized property which is co-owned by Sempervirens and POST and managed by the four organizations.

Also known as “old man’s beard,” Clematis is an insidious vine believed to have been introduced into the area as a house plant by a resident of Bella Vista, a town that once existed downstream of the quarry. Although Bella Vista was destroyed by a landslide in 1962, Clematis has continued to thrive. Today, it grows aggressively over anything in its path, suffocating all vegetation – including mighty redwood trees – as it goes. Its spread threatens anadromous fish and other wildlife habitat, water quality, and ecosystem health (including coast redwood forestlands) throughout the lower watershed by completely engulfing native vegetation.

The Clematis Removal Project will address the Clematis infestation in the watershed by controlling the invasive plant on the San Vicente Redwoods property, monitoring and documenting the success or failure of treatment methods used, and laying the groundwork for a future phase to control Clematis on the adjacent Cotoni-Coast National Monument property and ultimately eradicate it from the watershed.

Sempervirens Fund, a 118-year old land trust focused on the connection, protection and restoration of redwood forests in the Santa Cruz Mountains, will be releasing a new five-year Strategic Plan this fall. While the protection of land remains the organization’s primary mission, restoration of ecologically-important forest lands such as the Clematis-choked San Vicente Watershed will be an increasingly high priority in years to come.

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