Meadow Restoration and Research

People establishing research plots at Whalen Property.

Establishing research plots at Sempervirens Fund’s Whalen property. Photo by Ian Rowbotham.

Sempervirens Fund and Amah Mutsun Land Trust Partner on 3-year Meadow Restoration and Research Project

Last year, Sempervirens Fund began an effort to restore a former meadow that had been completely covered by planted Christmas trees on our property adjacent to Castle Rock State Park. The initial plan involved removing the densely packed Christmas trees and planting native canyon, black, and coast live oak to match the surrounding hardwood forest. After reaching out to the Amah Mutsun Land Trust to conduct an archeological survey prior to the tree removal however, staff noticed a huge diversity of ethnobotanically valuable plants.

Upon discovering this, the goals quickly shifted to accentuate this rare, biodiverse meadow habitat, and led to two, collaborative 3-year projects with AMLT to restore and study it. The first project focuses on stewardship of the meadow, removing invasive species and limiting the incursion of Douglas fir to help enhance the natural re-growth of the meadow habitat. This work is being done by the AMLT Stewardship Corps, a program that helps Amah Mutsun tribal members foster an ecological and cultural connection with historic tribal activities and develop conservation fieldwork and leadership skills through traditional stewardship practices. Stewardship Corps members also collect sustainable amounts of ethnobotanically valuable plants, helping restore a relationship with and understanding of native species used for consumption and other practices.

On top of enhancing the meadow conditions, AMLT researchers are partnering on a 3-year research project to study the effects of multiple treatments on culturally significant plants and invasive species in the meadow. By testing prescribed burning, shading, mowing, and hand-pulling, the work will help produce valuable information to guide landscape-level restoration decisions.

Through collaborative and creative projects like these, Sempervirens Fund is supporting forward-thinking management and helping restore unique habitats of the Santa Cruz Mountains.

A bumblebee visits a tomcat clover at Sempervirens Fund’s Whalen property.