February 2023 Newsletter

Snow on Penon Peak on February 23, 2023. Photo by Alix Soliman. 

February 28, 2023

By Jamison Watts, Executive Director

With more than 24 inches of rainfall so far this water year (which runs from October 2022 to September 2023) and a dusting of snow at higher elevations, The Preserve is awash in a million hues of refreshing green. We’re already seeing poppies, Padre’s shootingstar, lupine, and many other wildflowers blooming on hillsides.

As soil and plant communities are the foundation of terrestrial ecosystems, the Conservancy invests a great deal to maintain their health and diversity. Within the 20,000-acre Santa Lucia Preserve exists a mosaic of oak woodlands, redwood forests, grasslands, coastal scrub and chaparral, ponds, and streams. One of the most important facets of the Conservancy’s work is maintaining and enhancing these natural habitats which provide food, shelter, and migration corridors for hundreds of wildlife species. A major part of this work is managing invasive plants so that native ones may thrive.

While it is impossible to completely eradicate invasive plants, slowing their spread and reducing their seedbank is critical to long-term success. The alternative would be to allow invasives to take over—consuming high quantities of already scarce water, increasing fuel loads that raise wildfire risk, disrupting nutrient cycles in the soil, and reducing the quality and quantity of important wildlife habitat.

We all play an important role in slowing the spread of invasive plants by managing weeds in our own backyards. As you plan your spring landscaping this year, we encourage you to plant native species and remove noxious weeds that have the potential to intensify fire behavior such as French broom, yellow starthistle, and poison hemlock.