Guest Blog Post by Samantha Prestrelski and Annabelle Mitchell
Non-native species are quickly growing in the San Dieguito River Park, taking away space from which native plants can grow. We are two scouts (pictured above collecting bush sunflower seeds) from Girl Scout Troop 1668 in Carmel Valley who plan to spend this summer and fall helping the San Dieguito River Park on its habitat restoration project. Our focus is propagating native plants in the San Dieguito River Park: we will collect seeds from native plants and get cuttings from trees and grow the plants in the nursery located in the San Dieguito Lagoon, and supply the surplus to other areas within the River Park.
We are working toward the Silver Award, which is a Girl Scout community service award. “I like how by doing this project we get to get active outdoors, help out around our neighborhood, help restore nature, meet Rangers, learn more about our community, and get closer to receiving our Gold Award.” said Annabelle. To earn the Silver Award, a Girl Scout must complete 50 hours of service working on a project that the girls feel strongly about, and want to help make a difference. The girls in Troop 1668 started preparing for their Silver Award in sixth grade when they became Cadettes, the level within Girl Scouts for middle school aged girls. All nine scouts in Troop 1668 are working in small groups on various community service projects to earn this highest honor for Cadettes.
Above: A bladderpod bush.
We have been working with Rangers Bryan Ward and Natalie Borchardt to collect seeds and cuttings from native plants, including bush sunflowers (Encelia californica), bladderpod plants (Peritoma arborea), and lemonade berry (Rhus integrifolia), in the San Dieguito Lagoon. We have gathered bush sunflower seeds into bags and took cuttings of the stems that had seeds that weren’t completely dry yet, but would continue to grow and dry on their own. We have also collected bladderpod pods and cracked them open to see which ones had dry seeds, so that the seeds could be used for propagating. We have also collected lemonade berry, by picking them off the bushes. The fruit is edible, but the seeds inside are what we are collecting. “I really like learning about the different species of plants from the rangers and being able to make a difference in our community,” said Samantha. We’ve both had a lot of fun collecting the seeds and learning about the plants themselves.
Above: A lemonade berry bush.
Both of us are excited to do something beneficial for our community, especially because the lagoon is part of our neighborhood, literally down the street from our houses. We’ve really enjoyed learning about different native species, and both look forward to continuing work on this project throughout the summer and the fall!