March 28, 2005
Campus volunteers giving nature a hand
By Louise Donahue
For the volunteers who join work crews each quarter to help
preserve UCSCs natural areas, the effort is a labor of
Volunteers take part in a restoration planting project on
an earthen berm buffer that separates the Long Marine Lab
facilities from the Younger Lagoon Natural Reserve.
Photo: Scott Loosley
It really is a wonderful way to get out, with a great
group of people, and work to help the environment, said
paleoceanography researcher and volunteer Linda Anderson.
Theres a problem here, and were out to address
it, she said.
The problems are invasive, non-native species and erosion.
Work crews pull out the troublesome plants, replant areas with
native species, and also monitor the campus to detect invasive
Scott Loosley, who heads the Site Stewardship Program of Grounds
Services, estimates volunteers have added at least 2,000 plants
to the UCSC landscape, mostly in the Long Marine Lab area.
The work can be demandingAnderson said she could recommend
it as aerobic exercisebut it also comes with a sense of
In the few years I've volunteered at Younger Lagoon I've
been able to see once-tiny plants that we've planted thrive
and form a thick cover that helps to keep out the weeds,
said volunteer Laura Goodhue. A 1991 UCSC graduate, Goodhue
is a field assistant for the Fort Ord Natural Reserve rare plant
Studentswhether as volunteers or interns--are the backbone
of the volunteer preservationists, though staff and faculty
members also take part. Loosley made a presentation at the March
10 Staff Forum to encourage more staff participation.
Volunteers sign up to work for four hours on weekends through
either the Site
Stewardship Program or the UCSC
Maggie Fusari is director of the UCSC Natural Reserves and
Sean McStay, is the reserve steward of the Campus, Younger Lagoon,
and Fort Ord Reserves. The Natural Reserves are administered
by the Division of Physical and Biological Sciences.
The campus stewardship program is vital to the UCSC Campus
Natural Reserve, the Younger Lagoon Natural Reserve, and the
UCSC campus in general, said Fusari. Those of us
who are charged to take care of these lands depend on students
and staff to help us with basic land maintenance projects such
as weed control, restoration of native plant communities, and
monitoring of the conditions of our natural systems.
I am very proud to be working with Scott Loosley and
Sean McStay (who did his own senior thesis on restoration of
one of our interpretive trails) because they have made this
program work, said Fusari. The volunteers love them
and love working with them. And the entire campus benefits from
the improved care of its precious natural lands.
The largest numbers of volunteers usually turn out in the fall,
when students in environmental studies associate professor Karen
Holls Restoration Ecology class are required to
participate in a restoration project of some kind. Several student
interns also participate each quarter.
Many student volunteers have gone off to do credited work in
ecology, restoration, plant science, and environmental management
in classes, internships, and even senior thesis projects, Fusari
Each workday includes an educational component. If the volunteers
are rebuilding a forest path, for instance, Loosley will explain
how taking a shortcut through the forest leads to root compaction,
which can kill the trees.
Ive learned something each time; native plants
are my avocation and my passion, said Anderson.
Laura Goodhue has found her work at the Younger Lagoon Reserve
especially rewarding. There's lots to love about volunteering
at Younger Lagoon Reserve, she said. It is good
to be in the company of people who want to make a difference.
Working in these areas also provides a chance to enjoy nature,
Goodhue said. There are gorgeous-smelling plants to smell,
all kinds of birds to watch, and occasionally I've even seen
a beautiful bobcat.
This spring, there will be several opportunities for volunteers
to do their part.
On April 9 and April 23, the Grounds Site Stewardship Program
will be doing native planting and maintenance at Long Marine
Lab. On May 14, the project will be in the Great Meadow Invasive
Plant Removal. To RSVP and for additional details, e-mail firstname.lastname@example.org
or call (831) 459-2643.
UCSC Natural Reserves stewardship days will be held May 1 at
Younger Lagoon Reserve. On May 7, and May 22, workers will concentrate
on Campus Natural Reserve work. To sign up, e-mail email@example.com.
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