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US Fish & Wildlife Service FieldNotes

SEAL BEACH NWR: National Public Lands Day Volunteers Plant 750 Native Plants

Region 8, October 20, 2012
Group photo for a job well done!
Group photo for a job well done! - Photo Credit: n/a

By Lisa Cox, Public Outreach

What an incredible volunteer work day at the Seal Beach National Wildlife Refuge. Celebrating National Public Lands Day, approximately 100 volunteers planted 750 native upland plants on a two acre restoration site. 

Plants such as Laurel sumac, California coastal sage brush, and bush sunflowers were systematically planted by hard working youth groups from all over the area. In addition to U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service and U.S. Navy staff, Friends of Seal Beach NWR, Sunburst Youth Academy, Boy Scout troop #74 from Long Beach, and Disney “VoluntEARS” all helped  to accomplish the habitat work. Most had never been on the refuge and were happy to get dirty, creating habitat and food for birds, mammals, and pollinators."We've driven by here on our way to the beach and I never realized that there was a wildlife refuge here," said Andrea Castro, a mom with Boy Scout Troop 74 from Long Beach. "I think it's cool!"

The purchase of the native plants and supplies was made possible by a grant from the Department of Defense Legacy Program, intended to improve the wildlife habitat on base and also involve the public. The Seal Beach Naval Weapons Station has been able to acquire funding from this grant for over six years now, and hopes to continue in the future for National Public Lands Day events.

Each plant was carefully planted in a pre-drilled hole, covered with soil and mulch, and fixed up with a water gel, a biodegradable cardboard containing a slow-release gel to water the plant over the time span of several months. Coyotes were keen on finding this source of water, so to deter them, each water gel was sprayed with a layer of cayenne pepper.

Service staff will manage invasive plant species in this restoration area by mechanical and chemical means, until the native plants expand enough to crowd out the weeds. “It really is amazing to see these habitat restoration areas evolve from the time they are covered with invasive weeds, to the workday when the area is buzzing with activity of hard working volunteers, to the end product when several years later you will see lizards, rabbits, birds, butterflies, bees and more all using these areas where they have never been seen before,” said Seal Beach Refuge Manager, Kirk Gilligan.

Contact Info: Lisa Cox, 619.476.9150 ext. 106, lisa_cox@fws.gov