Wednesday, April 6, 2011

Ballona Wetlands Restoration Day

In all my time working at our beautiful Los Angeles Bed and Breakfast (since 2007), I had never set foot on the Ballona Wetlands – though I have enjoyed the view from the Inn’s back porch.  When Suzanne, another Innkeeper here, asked if I would volunteer in her place as a Ballona Wetlands Docent one Saturday, I was very excited.  I received the Docent Manual by email and read over it.  No way I'd remember every last detail, but I was going to try my hardest to be the best Docent I could be.  The main rule that stood out to me was "Volunteers may not sit or ride in the wheelbarrows".. to which I thought, "Darn!"  Thankfully I never ran into a problem with that. (… this time ;) heh heh) 
The Inn at Playa del Rey from the Ballona Wetlands

When I arrived, I saw a good-sized group of people (about 30) waiting to start their volunteer work for the morning - many of whom were wearing rain boots... I hadn't thought of that as I was getting ready, but thankfully I had mine in my car from the recent rainstorms, and I couldn't be happier that I wore them.  After all, wetlands do tend to be... well, a bit wet after a massive storm (per the Doppler7000) and the boots were perfect for tromping around. 
Ice Plant Removal

After signing in, I really had no idea what my job would be but I thought I would just be an overseer. As it turns out, Patrick, who works for the Friends of Ballona, informed me that I, too, would be helping with the restoration projects.  There were a couple jobs that I could choose from.  I opted to help with the ice plant removal.  Little did I know that it would be very difficult and labor intensive work. The ice plant had been brought in from overseas many years ago and because of its invasive nature, it overwhelms (and kills off)  the native plants. We remove it so that native plants can be re-planted there in the future.  With the use of only our hands (another rule in the rule book), we started our  “Ice Plant Elimination Mission”; trying to pull from the roots so that it won't grow back. With some serious elbow grease and an armload of team work, we made quite a dent in removing that ice plant.  Because of all the rain, the plants were quite heavy.  I tussled a bit with a few of the feistier plants, but it was well worth it; I felt like a hero to all those little native plants awaiting their chance to grow in the fertile wetlands.  With the camaraderie of my team, time flew by. After two and a half hours of clothes-dirtying, arm-tiring ice plant elimination we finished removing the plants in the area to which we had been assigned.  We disposed of the ice plants by carrying them in bulk in burlap sacks to the dumpster for removal. As you can imagine, I was ready for a good nap... Instead, I quickly rinsed off all the dirt and headed off to the Inn to make some yummy Vanilla Streusel cake for our guests!  My nap came later that night :). 
Working hard!

I had a great time volunteering at the Ballona Restoration Day (though no one ever did quiz me about what I’d read in the manual) and would recommend it to everyone - they have a job for people of all ages!  It was great to learn more about the wetlands here in Los Angeles and really get to experience it first hand, literally.  Who knew there was such beautiful nature so close to our LAX hotel?  Next volunteer day is April 23, see you there?



Join me next time!


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