Volunteers from the Putah Creek Council (PCC) planted native California wild roses along Pleasants Creek, located near State Route 128 as an environmental rehabilitation project to prevent erosion, Jan. 16. The PCC along with UC Davis Riparian Reserve (UCDRR) and volunteers excavated the roses a few days prior from Putah creek.
This is the fourth-annual wild rose harvest since it started in 2012. Rich Marovich, Stream Keeper for the Lower Putah Creek Coordinating Committee and UC Davis Alumnus, explained that by relocating the plants in the winter, the dormant plant will have a better chance to survive after it is replanted. The PCC organized the annual harvest after discovering the benefits wild roses have on the creek environment.
“What we were finding was that there were places where roses were occurring in great abundance and many other places where roses were very scarce. So the distribution of roses on Putah Creek and in the entire watershed was very uneven. We wanted to start new colonies of roses because it’s such a functional plant in terms of controlling erosion but it’s also an outstanding habitat plant,” Marovich said.
The PCC’s Putah Creek Community Stewardship Program Manager, Bobby Gonzalez, was involved in both removing and replanting the roses. He explained that the process of removing the roses began by using a large piece of machinery called an excavator to loosen the soil around the plants. The roses were then picked out of the soil and trimmed.
“We would sift through the freshly excavated soil with the roses in it and we would trim down the roses into smaller pieces about six inches of root and six inches of shoot, that’s the ideal size….Afterwards we spread native grass straw all over the site and we planted probably another 30 roses there to rehabilitate the site,” Gonzalez said.
The wild rose crowns, pieces with both the root and shoot, were transported from Putah Creek to Pleasants Creek where they were planted on Jan. 16 to enhance the creek’s natural habitat and stabilize the hillside. For this project, the PCC partnered with the Solano Research Conservation District. Wild roses will benefit Pleasants Creek by protecting against erosion while adding to the wildlife habitat.
“Wild rose grows near the site and for the use at [Pleasants Creek] and it made sense to stabilize the area with something that grows rhizomatously, or grows with underground roots. So imagine something like blackberry, something that creeps and crawls, that’s how it grows. So we’re thinking that if we plant enough of those on this embankment that then, in several years, they will fully cover that embankment and assist retarding erosion along that area,” said Chris Rose, executive director at Solano Resource Conservation District.
Along with protecting the natural habitat of Putah Creek, the PCC and UCDRR provide experience to volunteers who are interested in learning about the field. A third-year Environmental Policy Analysis and Planning major and volunteer at the wild rose harvest, Naftali Moed benefits from the opportunity to volunteer in his field of study.
“I think that one of the great things about the fact that the campus and the council have partnerships like the Annual Rose Harvest is that it gives all of us undergraduates opportunities to experience different types of fieldwork which is something that doesn’t always happen in our classes. To learn more in depth what it looks like to create new animal and plant habitats and answering all of those questions is definitely really helpful as far as thinking about future career goals,” Moed said.
In addition, Moed appreciates that from a social perspective, the PCC is very locally controlled and is focused on enhancing the native habitat.
“Their focus is on Putah Creek which I think is really special because… all of the projects we do are very closely tied to the watershed and the priority, as far as roses go for instance, are very flexible and in the context of the greater creek. I think that the downside to some larger programs that you’ll see out there is that the focus is a little bit more general and there’s less site specific knowledge and planning as far as how different areas will be managed,” Moed said.
The PCC is dedicated to sustainability and maintaining the natural habitat. They use locally sourced materials and increase the abundance of native vegetation.
“We’re trying to do it in a sustainable way so we’re not just going out there and harvesting as much as we can, we’re planting roses,” Gonzalez said. “Every time we go out there and harvest, we plant where we harvested so that the roses will be replenished for the next year.”
Courtesy Photo from Putah Creek Council.