On Saturday, March 19th, more than 30 volunteers came out to help with revegetation of our newest project site at Roy’s Riffles. Groups came out to help from Salesforce and Archie Williams High School, and additional volunteers came from our steady and dedicated habitat restoration volunteer team. A group of environmental scientists came all the way from Sacramento to visit the project site and help with planting, and an entomologist joined the volunteer event to learn more about what we are doing to help support pollinators through our restoration work.

With such a large and capable group of volunteers we were able to accomplish a tremendous amount of work during the event. We planted around 400 trees, shrubs, perennials, and groundcovers, added mulch to portions of the site, and removed thousands of invasive thistles, hemlock seedlings, and other invasive plants. 

During late winter and early spring months we typically focus on planting in low-bank areas, where there is still moisture in the soil. At Roy’s we have sprinklers set up over large areas and can continue to plant in mid- and upper-bank areas. We planted trees and shrubs such as white alders, Oregon ash, twinberries, and Pacific ninebark in low-bank areas. We also planted nectar-rich pollinator plants such as grass-leaf goldenrod, California aster, and Western vervain along the sunny areas.

I wanted to know what inspired all these people to come out during their free time to help plant out and care for the site, so I asked some of the volunteers what motivated them, and what they enjoy about volunteering with SPAWN. Here are their responses:

“It comes down to having an impact. We’ve done work with other organizations and I didn’t feel like we were having a big impact. I live in Marin County and so I’m aware of the challenges that the endangered coho salmon face, and I want to do what I can to help. I lead the Oceans and Forest Group at Salesforce, and I want to keep the members of the group engaged and excited. A lot of us live in Marin County so we were able to bring a big group out to help today.”

  • Peter Thorner, Salesforce

“I have a history of working the State Parks and Forest Service and I like getting outside and like the physicality of doing hands-on work, which I don’t get to do as much as I would like to in my job. I enjoy volunteering with SPAWN because I like seeing tangible results.”

  • Jedediah Dowell, California State Parks 

“What got me into environmental science was a program in high school called the Watershed Education Summit. I fell in love with the hands-on aspects of the environmental field. I have always been outdoorsy and have wanted to spend my time in nature. As I’ve delved into the professional side of the environmental field, I see how much of the field is conceptual. I think it is really important to maintain an actual connection to the places we are protecting.”

  • Darienne Highsmith, Environmental Scientist 

“Each ecosystem brings its own nuances and benefits. I’m here to learn about how ecosystems grow from the bottom up. In my class we are learning about how to build healthy soil. I know that ecosystem health comes from creating healthy soils and having a healthy vegetation profile, and that ecosystem health benefits fish and other wildlife. I want to support the process of restoring a healthy ecosystem.”

  • Ashley Fliegel, Redwood Highschool Student

“I have done a lot of volunteering before in Germany and in the U.K. at similar projects. I enjoy outdoor, practical conservation activities and also like to connect with like-minded people who are interested in the same things. I conduct research on the connection between native plants and pollinators and am thrilled to be able to volunteer with an organization that is actively working to protect pollinators.”

  • Uta Mueller, Post-doctoral Researcher at UC Davis

The planting season is winding down, and we’re grateful that so many people volunteered with us this winter to help with revegetation of the new project site. Getting more perspective on why people choose to volunteer with SPAWN helps us leverage the support from the community in order to create real results on the ground. Thank you to all who have and continue to support our work and be a part of the solutions.

If you would like to participate and volunteer, find our available opportunities here.