I spent a pleasant afternoon in the hills above Stanford on Tuesday. It was a nice day, warm and (mostly) sunny and spent with colleagues and friends of long standing. A group of us from work volunteered to spend the afternoon performing “habitat stewardship”, also known as weeding and clearing away unwanted vegetation. The activity was part of the annual charitable giving campaign at our company and we partnered with the ecoMagic group as they are responsible for these kinds of activities in this area.
View of the back of the satellite dish usually seen from 280.
Some background: European grasses have mostly taken over the hillsides in this area, and the oaks were cleared quite some time ago. Nothing practical can be done about the grass, but Stanford and ecoMagic are trying to put oaks back on the hills in this area. To that end they’ve planted over 100 oak trees in the last 15 years, and our mission today was to do some care and feeding of those trees.
More background. It seems that mice want to eat the small oaks. Also, the weeds will choke the oaks, given the chance. A method to protect the oaks, using metal reinforced plastic tubes, has been devised, and is visible in some of the photos below. The tubes provide protection against the rodents that want to eat the trees, the weeds that would choke the oak, and additionally, they stimulate the oak to grow at an accelerated rate.
Our job mission for today? Create firebreaks and weed. (we did close to 100 trees, all told).
Before we begin, we must pay homage to the satellite. (Well, one of my colleagues said that’s what it looked like we were doing, and I just had to share!)
We’ve just about finished this section, the 2nd of 3 we did that day. Note the small tree in the foreground. That’s one of the oaks we’re trying to protect, and you can see the protective plastic tube mentioned earlier. You can also see the cleared area around the oak, which serves to distance the tree from weeds and also serves as a firebreak in the event of fire. (The hill would benefit from a cleansing fire, but there a multitude of issues that will prevent a legal man-made fire for the forseeable future.)
Hard at work; Stanford Tower in the background.
It’s starting to get late in the afternoon and we’re almost done. Speaking of the plastic tubes, here’s one, but I guess it was less than successful in saving its oak.
In conclusion, the event was fun, tiring, rewarding and the time was absolutely well spent. If interested in similar activities, be sure to visit the ecoMagic web for more information.