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Borrego Springs, CA

Tuesday, February 3, 2015

Restoring habitat

Back in the day before the white man came to this area of Arizona desert along the lower Colorado River, the river was controlled by Mother Nature, had yearly floods, and was lined with cottonwood and willow trees.  That isn’t the way it is today.  With the advent of steamboats, and later dams, the cottonwood and willow forests disappeared.

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One of the objectives of this refuge is to restore some of that riparian habitat.  A little over 2000 cottonwood and willow seedlings arrived in these big boxes yesterday.  That meant they had to be planted pretty quickly.

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I was able to escape the VC long enough yesterday afternoon to document the first part of this restoration.  Over 1000 cottonwood seedlings were in this huge crate.

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A field had been prepared for planting.  So, how do you plant 2000 tree seedlings quickly?  I’m going to show you.

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See those two seats behind the tractor?  Two people sit in those seats and drop the seedlings one at a time down under them.  Flats of the two kinds of seedlings are on the sides of each of the seats.

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As the tractor slowly moves along, other attachments dig a trough, then after the seedling is dropped, cover the roots with dirt.  The smaller vehicle on the left follows behind with additional seedlings.

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When needed, the staff member in the green vehicle jumps out and makes sure each seedling is seated in the dirt properly. 

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The ‘planters’ behind the tractor were fellow volunteers Norma and Doug.  Seems they’re enjoying their work!  I was jealous.  Sure beats working the VC in my book.

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                                  And driving the tractor?  None other than fellow volunteer Chef Jay!

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At the end of each row, the planter platform is lifted up, and Norma and Doug climbed out.  This puzzled me. I couldn’t figure out why they didn’t just ride back to the beginning of the next row.  Turns out they tried that the first time, but because the tractor travels much faster back to the beginning, they were choking in the dust.  So, at the end of each row they got out and walked back.

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This is what each planted seedling looks like.  I think it is a much better method than using a shovel to dig each hole to plant a tree.

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Ten rows of 61 seedlings each were planted yesterday afternoon.  That’s 610 possible trees.  A checkerboard pattern was designed by the Wildlife Specialist, Vance, for the plantings.  So there will be a more natural diversity in the woodlot.  Today, an additional 20 rows were planted, and the plot is done.  I’ll be long gone before this woodland comes to maturation, but I’m glad I could be a small part of the goings on.  I wish I could have been out there helping rather than just recording, but at least one female got to do something outside of the VC for a change on this refuge.

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                                                                              THE END!!

Thanks for stopping by… talk to you later,  Judy

29 comments:

  1. Now that is the way to improve on the 'manual labour' of planting on your hands and knees!
    too bad you didn't get a chance for a ride on the tractor!

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  2. The farmer in me wonders why they didn't just seed the next row going the opposite direction.

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  3. How will they keep these watered? I understand Cottonwoods love water! We have them in Colorado and always see them along a stream bed.

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  4. Maybe there is hope for our planet yet, with good people to repair the damage.

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  5. Oh my goodness. What a huge job. How are Norma and Doug's back feeling today.

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  6. How many of those plantings do they expect to survive? You deserve a medal for working in the V C. Would drive me more batty than I am.

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  7. It is the director's mistake to not use your "hands on" talents! His loss for sure!

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  8. I think I would love planting the seedlings too. It must be hard, on your back to plant so many little trees, but what a feeling of accomplishment it must be!

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  9. Your operation is a lot more sophisticated than when we helped plant 6,000 willows at Sevilleta NWR... each hole dug by a post hole digger on the skid steerer and then the root stock planted by hand. That was a project that the Sierra Club undertook. I've wondered how many of those trees survived....

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  10. Good to see you again. Haven't seen you around in a while. I'm glad to hear the manager at least has a decent head for restoration if not for employee management. It will be interesting to see how they water them and how many survive. You are a trooper for hanging around there. Hope you get outside more often. I'm amazed you were "allowed out" for this.

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  11. Good to see that everyone was enjoying themselves.

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  12. very interesting thanks for posting this I always wondered how things like that happen Icould not imagine one seedling at a time...and wonder why they don't use you for your knowledge and what you can contribute instead of desk job

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  13. Very interesting--I too wonder how these trees will get water, is the ground water that close to the surface there? Glad you were released from prison for a while!

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  14. Great post and an interesting planting method! Nice to see that efforts are made to restore what has been destroyed. Maybe these old riparian areas still contain enough moisture in the soil to sustain the seedlings or there are underlying aquifers? I love the beautiful colors in your sunrise header!

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  15. The process is new to me and very interesting. Thanks for telling us about it!!

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  16. Pretty slick planting set up. Once again, it shows how much of s difference that volunteers make to programs. Imagine how much it would cost to pay someone to do this?

    Hope all those seedlings take root and survive, it will be a beautiful thing to see in the future.

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  17. hmmmm. . .well that was interesting for sure. . .600 trees planted in one day. . .amazing! You recording it for posterity. . .wonderful. . .whomever's posterior that is, is also recorded for posterity. . .LOL!

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  18. Since mankind has altered the natural landscape (esp of the Colorado River), every little bit of help to restore a riparian habitat is good! What an efficient way to plant trees, too! Obviously, you're going to have to tell all of us how the NWR is going to water the new trees, 'cause Mother Nature ain't gonna do it -- not in that desert terrain. Glad you could get outside w/ your camera ... must have been grand to witness the process.

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  19. I am reminded of a saying the physical therapist told me. You level of fitness is only to the degree supported by the level of daily physical activity. Regarding the replanting of vegetation in an altered water pattern area.....It is hard to imagine that it can be successful unless there is adequate water to support the growth and maintenance of the newly planted trees. Glad to you got to see the process. I'm hoping for the best for these young seedlings.

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  20. When I first saw all those seedlings, the thought popped in my head how in blazes long will that take? Should have known there was an easier way.

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  21. I had to go hunt you down, Judy, for some reason I am not getting you in my blog roll, or maybe I am not looking enough. Anyway...wanted to know how you were doing and see that there are more posts to catch up on. Sorry you didn't get to plant seedlings. They would have been right down your row...er alley. Hang in there.

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  22. That looks like a great way to plant trees. When they did re-veg at Laguna Atascosa they used a tractor to open a trench but then had about two dozen contract employees hand planting the various thorn scrub seedlings. Your way looks much better!

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  23. I have gotten your text but only snippets of photos..we are in Verizon Hades here and Cell Phone Luciferland...Sound like a real neat experience...!

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  24. Kevin & Ruth are so fortunate to have started their RV lifestyle at the age they did when body parts are still working well.

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  25. Nice post.Thank you for sharing this in Your blog.

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