U.S. Fish & Wildlife Service

Sacramento Fish & Wildlife OfficeServing the people, conserving the fish, wildlife, and plants of California

A Unit Of The Pacific Southwest Region

A Drop of Volunteerism Makes for Positive Ripples

Children who helped with the Koobs Preserve restoration efforts got to deliver the downed invasive acacia trees to the Sacramento Zoo for the giraffes and other animals to eat. Photo Credit: John Cleckler/USFWS

Pollinators, such as bees and butterfly species are struggling to survive in California and throughout the United States. These animals are critical to our nation’s economy, food security, and environmental health. Last month, due to the concern for their on-going decline, President Obama signed the Strategy to Promote the Health of Honey Bees and Other Pollinators. The strategy calls on the American people to assist in the conservation of these important species.

Out ahead of the more recent efforts nationally, John Cleckler, CalTrans Liaison for the U.S. Fish and Wildlife’s Sacramento Field Office, was excited to learn his daughter’s Montessori School in urbanized Carmichael, California, was next door to the Koobs Nature Preserve. The preserve is held in an educational trust and serves as both an outdoor classroom and a Vietnam Memorial.

Seeing invasive exotic trees and weeds taking over the four-acre site and crowding out native plants and animals, John began organizing volunteers to maintain and improve the site. Tasks have included reclaiming pathways and the removal of non-native plants. John was also able to partner with a local conservation company, Westervelt Environmental, to have the preserve digitally mapped; delivered downed invasive acacia trees to the Sacramento Zoo for their browse program; and secured large amounts of mulch donated by the Bailey Tree Company.

Leigh Bartoo, Bay Delta FWO Biologist identified and successfully secured grants to purchase hundreds of milkweed (pictured here) and other native flower species for the Koobs Preserve. Photo Credit: John Cleckler/USFWS

Service biologist, Leigh Bartoo, was also involved and secured grants to purchase hundreds of milkweed and other native flower species for the Koobs Preserve. Students from the Montessori School planted and help care for milkweed plants for monarchs, and other nectar sources such as gumplant, Phacelia, California poppies, and blue-eyed grass. Soon, these plants will provide a tasty meal for monarch butterfly caterpillars, and nectar and pollen for native pollinators. And the children are getting an invaluable hands-on opportunity in learning the role and value of pollinators and how to protect the environment.

Further enhancements of the Koobs Preserve are well underway. The site is now a home to native pollinators and birds, includes a welcome mat for monarch butterflies, provides urban school children a rare opportunity to connect with nature, and offers their parents a monthly opportunity to enjoy camaraderie.

The efforts to improve the Preserve caught the attention of the Carmichael Kiwanis Club, which recognized Cleckler as the 2015 Volunteer of the Year for his "extraordinary community service."

Collage photo of volunteers

Thanks to the efforts of two helpful Service biologists and the local community, Koobs Preserve restoration site is now home to native pollinators and birds and provides urban school children and their parents a rare opportunity to connect with nature in an urban corridor. Photos by John Cleckler and Steve Martarano/USFWS

Photo of John Cleckler

The Carmichael Kiwanis Club recognized Sacramento FWO's own John Cleckler (pictured here working on the new gardens) as the 2015 Volunteer of the Year for his "extraordinary community service." Photo credit: John Cleckler/USFWS

Last updated: November 8, 2017