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San Diego County, California

VMF Volunteers Fighting Invasive Plants on Volcan Mountain

Volunteers with VMF's Conservation-Stewardship team have been tearing it up! Or should we say tearing it 'out'?

While its still too soon to be able to have student groups and other visitors back to VMF's Volcan Mountain Nature Center, in the last few weeks small groups of VMF volunteers have been fighting invasive plants on Volcan Mountain. Don't worry, they've also been doing their part to fight COVID-19 by keeping safely distanced and wearing face coverings as necessary.

The end of May Volunteer Stewardship Day focused on removal of invasive bull thistle, and also some maintenance of VMF's Sky Island Trail. Former VMF Board Member, Sharyl Massey, started leading the battle against bull thistle several years ago -- a battle that will likely still be on for years to come.

Longtime VMF volunteer, botanical brainiac and enemy of invasive plants everywhere, Larry Hendrickson, has taken up the lead in the bull thistle fight alongside, VMF Conservation-Stewardsip Committee co-chair, Valerie Cournoyer, and VMF Engagement Coordinator, Susan Meyer. Other dedicated stewardship volunteers rolling up their sleeves, included (Valerie's mate) Aaron Melzow, David Evarts, Greg Schuett, and Cass Van Dyne.

While on the mountain in May, Larry observed a new invasive plant that needed to be added to VMF's invasive removal fight -- shortpod mustard -- and another Volunteer Stewardship Day was set for early June. This time, veteran VMF super-volunteer, Bill Augustus, was on hand for the fight. Fourteen contractor bags of plant material were removed!

Invasive plants have an impact on water quality, biodiversity, wildlife habitat, tree cover and fire risk and costs. They compete directly with native species for moisture, sunlight, nutrients and space, and decrease overall plant diversity -- which can then degrade wildlife habitat. Habitat loss and invasive plants are the leading cause of loss of native biodiversity.

Removing invasive plants helps to create a healthy plant community that has a diverse variety of plants, and can be more resilient.

The Volcan Mountain community thanks our awesome team of volunteers for Keeping it Wild on Volcan Mountain!

If you'd like to help out with future Volunteer Stewardship Days, contact VMF Engagement Coordinator, Susan Meyer at: susan@volcanmt.org or at the VMF office: 760-765-2300.

And once the public health orders are eventually lifted, Volunteer Stewardship Days will also again be posted on VMF's website (www.VolcanMt.org).

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