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SAN DIEGO NWR: Cactus Planting - A Pointedly Successful Volunteer Event
California-Nevada Offices , January 10, 2009
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Volunteers plant salvaged cholla and prickly pear cactus at the fledgling native plant nursery at the California Department of Fish and Game Rancho Jamul Ecological Reserve in Jamul, Calif. Cactus will be transplanted later to habitat restoration sites on San Diego National Wildlife Refuge to benefit the coastal cactus wren and other wildlife. (photo: Earl S. Cryer, by permission)
Volunteers plant salvaged cholla and prickly pear cactus at the fledgling native plant nursery at the California Department of Fish and Game Rancho Jamul Ecological Reserve in Jamul, Calif. Cactus will be transplanted later to habitat restoration sites on San Diego National Wildlife Refuge to benefit the coastal cactus wren and other wildlife. (photo: Earl S. Cryer, by permission) - Photo Credit: n/a
Aidan Beck and his mom Christine Beck plant cholla cactus January 10, 2009, at California Department of Fish and Game Rancho Rancho Jamul Ecological Reserve in Jamul, Calif. (photo: Earl S. Cryer, by permission)
Aidan Beck and his mom Christine Beck plant cholla cactus January 10, 2009, at California Department of Fish and Game Rancho Rancho Jamul Ecological Reserve in Jamul, Calif. (photo: Earl S. Cryer, by permission) - Photo Credit: n/a

by Jill Terp, San Diego NWR
We didn't expect to get a whole lot of people willing to kneel in the dirt for 4 hours under the hot sun and risk getting poked with sharp cactus spines. Boy, were we wrong!  Thirty-five volunteers, armed with kitchen tongs, showed up to plant cactus - and plant cactus they did!

In about 4 hours, an estimated 6,000 small cholla and prickly pear cactus were put into the ground along with about 150 mature cholla at the fledgling native plant nursery at the California Department of Fish and Game's Rancho Jamul Ecological Reserve. These plants form the basis for cactus habitat restoration that will occur in the near future on the San Diego National Wildlife Refuge and Rancho Jamul Ecological Reserve to benefit the coastal cactus wren. The wren’s populations have seriously declined in southern California due to cactus habitat loss from development and wildfire.

The thousands of cactus will be propagated at the nursery then transplanted; getting cactus rooted now will give them a jump start for later growth.  Propagating salvaged cactus saves several thousand dollars that it would cost to purchase small cactus from a commercial nursery.  Plus, using local salvaged material ensures appropriate local plant stock for the restoration. 

Giant thanks to all who braved the spines - especially to our stalwart regular volunteers Dave and Michele Hernandez, David and Katie Heath, Jolynn Robbins, Todd Stands, Pat Gower, and Anna Schmidt. 

Twenty-one new volunteers were added to the growing pool of volunteer talent that help the Refuge accomplish it goals of improving habitat for migratory birds and listed species. 

Thank you to new and past volunteers who hail from the San Diego Natural History Museum, California Native Plant Society, Cuyamaca College Ornamental Horticulture Department, The Nature Conservancy, California Department of Fish and Game, County of San Diego, California Department of Transportation, Carlsbad Fish and Wildlife Office, Fish and Wildlife Fire Management Program, and our wonderful Refuge neighbors and friends.

A round of applause goes to Alisa Zych, Michael McCain, and Bill Haas of Pacific Coast Conservation Alliance and John Martin and Sean Paver of San Diego NWR for the coordination and delivery of salvaged cactus from the Bayshore Bikeway project.

Our youngest volunteer, Aidan Beck (4 ½ years old), is a true veteran of cactus restoration - he helped salvage cholla in February 2008 from a construction site and helped plant cholla at Rancho Jamul in January 2009. Aidan is a kid that's really connecting with nature, thanks to his folks, Pete and Christine Beck. And because of Aidan’s efforts, along with efforts of all the other youth and adult volunteers and staff, the cactus wren and other wildlife will have more cactus to call home in the future in south San Diego County.


Contact Info: Jill Terp, 619-468-9245 x 226, jill_terp@fws.gov



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