By Miriam Raftery
Photo courtesy of Backcountry Land Trust
January 18, 2016 (Alpine) – Clearing local watersheds of the arrundo donax, a hardy bamboo-like, non-native plant that is a major fire fuels hazard, and other invasive species is tough work. To clear a four-mile stretch of Alpine Creek required contacting owners of about 700 private and public parcels, mapping the terrain and securing liability insurance and contracts. So far, the initial work has been done on about 50 parcels, funded mainly by private donations. But a lot more work is needed, including maintain those parcels already cleared.
Now, Back Country Land Trust has been awarded a $450,000 state water quality grant from Prop 84 funds that will be used to continue its work restoring watersheds along the San Diego River and Sweetwater River headwaters in Alpine. The grant is part of $31 million doled out to San Diego area organizations; others include Cleveland National Forest, the San Diego River Park Foundation, and the City of San Diego.
“This grant builds on nearly $250,000 of watershed restoration by BCLT over the past 4 years funded by the San Diego Foundation, Endangered Habitats League, the San Diego River Conservancy and by private donations,” says George Barnett with BCLT. Those sources of funding will also be approached for funding future work, he adds.
Barrett praised the Greater Alpine Fire Safe Council for being a “terrific partner in watershed restoration” including funding and providing chipping/disposal services for the removed invasive plants such as the arrundo donax.
The Second Chance Program of San Diego http://www.secondchanceprogram.org/ has also been a great resource, he adds. “Disadvantaged and at risk young adults have worked the program learning new skills of land management and restoration, and learning about environmental preservation, while being fairly paid. They have received a `second chance’ to build productive lives.”
View more dramatic before and after photos of BCLT’s restoration work here: http://www.bclt.org/index.php/bclt-projects/2-general/8-arundo-removal-project