Volunteers defend the native splendor of Fort Ord.
Thursday, August 9, 2007
Sara orangetip butterflies settle on Indian paintbrushes. The green leaves and red flowers of the pajaro manzanita sway in the offshore breeze. Delicate purple and white Chinese houses mingle amongst the other native species.
Beyond, cascading grasslands, freshwater marshes and vernal pools unfold in big gorgeous sections that seem to run all the way to the horizon. Bobcats, wild turkeys, roadrunners and any one of a variety of snakes that inhabit the area make occasional appearances.
Within the 8,000 acres of the former Fort Ord, these vistas are frequent – and mostly unseen. But there is a way for county residents to experience the majesty first hand.
As part of the Bureau of Land Management’s (BLM) twice weekly volunteer events, locals can help preserve the scenery as they soak it up, completing tasks that range from removing invasive weeds to surveying rare plants using GPS equipment.
On a recent summer day, sweat dotted the necks of a tiny band of volunteers as they ripped out invasives.
“[The volunteers] treat it like a job,” says longtime BLM botanist and Chuck Haugen Conservation Fund President Bruce Delgado. “They don’t mess around.”
They are also very low in numbers. BLM leadership has frequently cancelled volunteer days this summer because they could only gather one or two individuals to help out.
Though the number of volunteers has been small, their impact is always big. “It’s the most inspirational part of my job,” Delgado says. “Seeing such dedicated volunteers.”
FORD ORD VOLUNTEER DAYS convene Tuesdays and Thursdays from 10am-4pm. 394-8314.