Green Careers student Antonio Hernandez leads the way in the planting of a new native seed farm on the Pajaro Valley High nature preserve.
For the past seven years, Watsonville Wetlands Watch has been growing hundreds of pounds of native grass and wildflower seed for our native grassland restoration projects. Growing our own native seed has been a way to ensure we can restore diverse native grasslands throughout the slough system.
This past month, students from the Pajaro Valley High School Green Careers class that we teach spent a day working in our native plant nursery and planting a new native grass and wildflower seed farm on the Pajaro Valley High School campus nature preserve. This work is important to our mission because the overlap of native grasslands and wetlands is critical to the nesting birds and wildlife that use the sloughs today, as well as the future generations of those species whose return we are working to support. Soon these plants will be producing the seeds for the next generation of Pajaro Valley grasslands and wildlife.
Celebrate International Migratory Bird Day with Tour
Join us as we celebrate one of the most magnificent wonders of the world — global bird migrations — on International Migratory Bird Day, Saturday, May 9th. We’ll explore the wildlife and beauty of the Watsonville wetlands, home to over 220 species of birds, on a walking tour through seldom-visited pockets of solitude and untamed nature on this special birding tour. We will meet at 10 a.m. at the Wetlands Educational Resource Center located at the top of the Pajaro Valley High School campus at 500 Harkins Slough Road in Watsonville (map/directions). Tours are free but space is limited. Register by clicking here. For more information, contact Kathy Fieberling at firstname.lastname@example.org or 831-345-1226. To learn more about IMBD and the local relevance of this year’s theme, click to read the entire article.
Speaker Series: Ecological Lawn Alternatives — Inspiration and Techniques for Transforming Lawns into Ecological Landscapes
Alchemy Garden installation at Rosicrucian Park —
before and after lawn replacement
On Wednesday, May 13, landscape architects Bobby Markowitz and Dakotah Bertsch will discuss the history of lawns in the landscape, why they are often inappropriate, and showcase attractive alternatives. They will then go through the process of lawn replacement, highlighting sheet mulching technique, sprinkler conversion, and plant selection. Rainwater and graywater as alternative water sources for landscape irrigation will also be briefly discussed.
by Biologist and Environmental Consultant Gary Kittleson
On February 10, 2015 the Watsonville Sloughs' resident pair of bald eagles began again their long, patient process of raising young. Bald eagles were first documented unsuccessfully nesting in Santa Cruz County in 2012 at Pinto Lake and then again in 2013 on a private property in South County. Last year, however, the pair successfully hatched and fledged a single eaglet, the first ever recorded in Santa Cruz County. This year there are two eaglets. To read the entire article about eagles in the Central Coast, the exciting story of the Watsonville eaglets and their parents, click here.
We Applaud Our Teachers
Retired teacher and docent Dan Merritt with students conducting water quality monitoring
In honor of National Teachers Appreciation Week, which is May 4 – 8, we would like to acknowledge all the teachers, active and retired, who do such important work on behalf of the wetlands as docents, staff, and partners. One excellent example is docent Dan Merritt, retired Professor of Zoology and Environmental Science at the University of LaVerne, who is keeping very busy helping with Watsonville Wetlands Watch school field trips, and the Monterey Bay Aquarium’s W.A.T.C.H. Coastal Ecology program at Pajaro Valley High School. When speaking about the students Dan works with, he says, “I want them to know that the natural environment is more than “just facts” about something “out there”. It is a living, breathing, flowing, unfolding world—just as each child is.” To read the entire article including more of Dan’s comments, click here.
Remembering Bill Best
Bill Best on his bench, which has the inscription “Friend of the Wetlands”
On April 8, longtime docent Bill Best died after battling cancer for many years. Bill was a highly involved docent over the years — he was very popular with kids during field trips, was a co-creator of the wonderful wetlands diorama exhibit in the Wetlands Educational Resource Center classroom, was on a plant display team, helped with special events, wrote articles for the newsletter, and more. Through all kinds of cancer treatments and with severe hearing loss, he remained a regular contributor.
In 2012 a memorial bench, overlooking the wetlands and dedicated to Bill, was installed behind our Wetlands Resource Center. You can read here about Bill and his bench in the November 2012 newsletter article. On Bill’s 72nd birthday, just 10 days before his death, Bill’s family and close friends brought him to his bench for a celebration. It was to be Bill’s last outing.
Bill is continuing to contribute to the wetlands; he designated the Watsonville Wetlands Watch as the beneficiary of donations in his name upon his death. You can donate if you wish to give a gift in Bill’s memory. To learn more about Bill’s remarkable life, read his obituary here. We will miss Bill!
Community Restoration Day
We invite you to help restore wetland habitat by planting native plants and removing exotic invasive plants as part of our monthly community work day on May 23. We will work from 9 a.m. until noon, and we always make time for birding or a short hike around the wetlands. We supply the gloves, tools, and a snack. Meet at our Fitz Wetlands Educational Resource Center (map/directions). If you have questions, please contact Mary Paul at email@example.com or 831-566-4938.
Photo by Denise Murphy
Native habitats are not only good for wildlife — they also enhance and beautify our community. You too can support restoration and our wetlands. Receive discounts on whale-watching, birding tours, and other benefits by joining the WWW Northern Harriers as a sustaining donor. Read more or make a one-time gift on our secure online donation page, Support The Watch. Your tax-deductible gift of any size will make a difference! Watsonville Wetlands Watch is a 501(c)(3) nonprofit organization, federal tax ID #77-0519882.
Watsonville Wetlands Watch advocates for wetland issues, educates elementary, middle, and high school students, restores degraded habitats, preserves what remains whole, and teaches appreciation for the unique beauty and life of the Pajaro Valley wetlands. In cooperation with numerous other agencies, we support studies of and planning for these sites.