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Caspar NPCI Gorse Grant
NPCI GORSE GRANT
Project Name and Two-Sentence Project Summary
Caspar Headlands Native Plant Restoration
There is a critical need to preserve and restore the uniquely diverse and hardy community of grasses and wild flowers that is being overwhelmed by noxious invasive exotic weeds, notably gorse (Ulex europaeus). This grant will initiate a long-term community-based landscape-level strategy for eradicating gorse and other invasives on private and public lands and training of volunteer gorse grubbers who will sustain the work.
Project Abstract (summary of the proposal, one-page maximum)
This grant will provide essential missing elements to state and local efforts to restore native grasslands habitat along the coastal headlands near Mendocino, California. In the small community of Caspar, residents have become aware that their properties are being overcome by invasive noxious exotics, especially gorse. These weeds pose a fire hazard, decrease property value, but their worst effect is that they destroy the diverse community of coastal grasslands.
State agencies can abate gorse temporarily, but for restoration of the native plant community to take place, there is a need for a long-term local commitment. This can only result from a comprehensive mapping of the infestation, outreach to landowners, many of whom are absentees, development of restoration strategies that can successfully compete with invasive species, and identification of management practices that tip the balance toward or away from restoration.
There is a critical need to counter the gorse invasion now, because gorse is presently overwhelming dozens of acres a year at an accelerating rate. If it is not stopped, it will dominate the landscape, and it is a singularly unforgiving and dangerous weed. Fire suppression officials are convinced a fire in the present infestation could cause millions of dollars in damage ...and the gorse would survive. A principle focus of this grant is to reduce existing gorse thickets and begin restoration, but a secondary focus of almost equal importance is to initiate a long-term program to reduce gorse encroachment onto native grasslands bordering gorse thickets. While the former project requires heavy equipment and heroic measures, the latter requires the kind of public involvement that our proposal will create.
This grant will be used to focus community attention on the value of a healthy native plant community, and the costs of invasion by noxious species by identifying the most affected parcels, enlisting the assistance of owners and volunteers, developing a curriculum and training process, and educating the public about the effort. The Caspar area gorse infestation offers a precious "teachable moment" during which it is possible for visitors and residents alike to understand the risks of losing native biodiversity, and the effort required to restore it once it is compromised.
Just as the coastal headlands native plant community is biologically diverse, so are the agencies and individuals who join together to request this grant: California's State Parks, Forestry, and Coastal Conservancy departments, county agencies, local districts, and area residents are already working together, and, with the assistance of this grant, will assemble a model program that will provide techniques for landscape-level restoration activites that will be applicable wherever gorse infestations occur. The curriculum, interpretive signage, and restoration protocols created during the grant period will remain valuable, active, and in place for several years -- most likely, for the thirty-year lifespan of the gorse seedbank.
Proposal (eight-page maximum):
Project Need -- Describe the conservation need the project will address.
In five years since 1994, gorse, velvet grass, and other invasive noxious exotics have overgrown 30% of the complex headlands native grassland between Big River and Noyo River on the Pacific coast of Mendocino County, California. Even with all gorse on public lands under control, thriving gorse thickets on adjoining private land pose a constant threat, and so a "whole habitat" approach must be used. Most owners of gorse infested properties understand and regret the loss of property value and heightened fire danger – gorse is explosively flammable – but feel helpless to affect the problem without a comprehensive plan and help from neighbors and state and federal agencies.
Gorse infestation is a very long-term problem – the seed is viable for thirty years, and the plant is allelopathic and regenerates from small bits of root left in the soil. State agencies are poised to do the "heavy hauling" but are unable to provide the outreach, educational, and interpretive elements necessary for a long-term solution. Our one-year grant project will leverage a long-term, self-funding, and self-perpetuating effort because it will give property owners and cooperating agencies the strategies and tools needed to restore the grasslands.
Gorse infestation is not limited to Caspar; indeed it is a major threat to public and private lands in Oregon, Hawaii, and several other states. Caspar is unique in that the community at large perceives the value of a healthy native grasslands community as well as the threat from invasive weeds, and has already organized. We have a vivid, first-hand knowledge of gorse and a deep appreciation for our remaining open space, a preliminary plan, and cooperating agencies funded to work their lands and help private landowners.
In the U.S. gorse abatement has generally been attempted with big machinery, heavy applications of biocides, and intensive application of paid labor. Generally, these programs fail because the tend to create precisely the conditions that hinder regeneration of healthy native plant communities and hasten invasion or regeneration of noxious exotics. Our program of public involvement, education in habitat restoration methodologies, and integrated control strategies will provide management examples that can be applied successfully elsewhere.
Our specific goal is to create a one-year program that will initiate a long-term (30-year) program to restore the rich biodiversity of a small gorse-choked headlands stream at Caspar's Jughandle State Reserve; the benefits to wildlife are inestimable.
Objectives - List the project's specific measurable and obtainable objectives. Relate objectives to the grant criteria listed in Sections 1.0 and 5.0.
In one year, starting 1 November 1999, we propose to
Methodology - Describe the project's tasks and timetable for implementation, including who is doing the work and who is supervising. If this is part of a larger project, briefly describe the larger project and how this part relates the overall effort.
Management Implications - What management plans, strategies, or land use practices will be employed? Have these plans, strategies, and practices been agreed to by all pertinent parties? Please be specific.
From the local perspective, getting a whole village or community to acknowledge the threat posed by gorse, and, by extension, invasive exotics (which in Caspar also include eucalyptus, velvet grass, pampas grass, broom, himalaya blackberry, star thistle, tansy ragwort, iceplant...) is a major management benefit. Caspar has already begun to "celebrate" gorse, and its eradication, and public awareness of the problem is spreading. The Caspar area is a favored destination for tourists (750,000 a year) from all over the world who admire "the pretty yellow flowers" – and the opportunity for teaching them about the danger of exotic pests is powerful. There are four State Park units, a lighthouse, a public beach, a section of the California Coastal Trail, and one nationally recognized Botanical Garden within the study area, and all are affected or threatened by gorse.
Where the diverse native habitat poses no fire risk at any time of year, the gorse thickets are a major threat, and one cooperating agency (California Division of Forestry) is eager to provide the "muscle" (both equipment and manpower) to knock the fire threat down. In the past this has not controlled the gorse, which has grown back even thicker. This grant proposal, and the methods we propose to use, will intervene after the heavy machinery and labor has intervened.
We will employ two proven weed-management strategies. On "threatened" land, where gorse seedlings typically occur in concentrations from one to dozens per square meter, careful hand-pulling of whole plants during the winter and spring will create "Gorse Free Zones". On the small percentage of infested land to be treated, the large gorse plants will be knocked down and, where possible, uprooted. Where uprooting is impossible, cut gorse stumps will be painted within minutes of cutting with glyphosate. Lands will be included in this program only if their landowners invite it, and glyphosate will be employed only on lands where the landowner and owners of immediately neighboring parcels agree to its use. One purpose of this study is to monitor local pollution caused by the chemical.
The follow-up management phase, as noted already, must continue for 30 years, well beyond the scope of this or any conceivable grant. This is why the responsibility for followup must be assumed by the community. At any time during that 30 year period (although with decreasing intensity over time, fortunately) a single neglected gorse individual may mature (a two year process) and start a reinfestation. By establishing Gorse Free Zones and showing that they are maintainable, we believe we can enlist all owners of affected properties in the study area with three years.
Eventually, all infested land will require treatment, but until then, we will continue to monitor experiments using biological controls of exotic invasives.
In support of this grant proposal, the California Department of Forestry and Fire Protection writes:
Evaluation - Describe the strategy for monitoring and evaluating program results in the short- and long-term, including how success will be defined and measured.
Evaluation is not simple. The reappearance of gorse seedling in a Gorse Free Zone does not indicate failure, because the seedstock is viable for upwards of 30 years. Short-term success will be a cadre of trained volunteer gorse eradicators, a community united to eradicate gorse, and a few acres of native grasslands free from gorse seedlings for one more year. Short-term failure is easier to identify: continued apathy from county officials, neighbors, and the public, and another few acres lost to gorse thicket.
Long-term success will be shown by a growing awareness and sustainable effort by property owners to reduce, year-by-year, with the help of unaffected neighbors, the acreage of gorse thicket on their individual property. No matter how much money is spent by California State Parks, no matter how careful an individual landowner is to eradicate gorse on a parcel, existence of a gorse thicket on a parcel next-door means that gorse can overcome in a very few years. Awareness and effort are increasing, but not as fast as the gorse is spreading, and special focus needs to be brought on the problem. If gorse is not managed, eventually a fire will necessitate FEMA assistance.
Nonetheless, specific evaluation standards have been set for this project in the Objectives (above).
Results - If this is a continuation of a past Foundation-funded project, please report briefly on the past project's accomplishments.
a paragraph to explain "why the Foundation should use federal funds for this project." Name specific federal agencies to benefit; explain how this project is directly linked to those lands via the watershed, ecosystem, et cetera; and address any species of concern that will benefit. See Section 4.5 for a description of restrictions associated with federal funds. Please refer to each initiative listed in Section 5.0 for specific federal agency partners.
This is precisely the kind of project that "federalism" was designed to address. The problem exists and affects federal lands in numerous locales across the country, but public involvement is key to solving it. Acting locally, developing protocols, techniques, materials, and a body of successful examples, no matter how small, is in the broad public interest. Gorse control projects in other countries are typically federally funded at first, then carried on by local volunteers. Significantly, no "silver bullet" one-time application of chemicals and/or mechanical means has ever prevailed over gorse in the U.S., but successful gorse eradication projects using the key elements of the methodology we propose have succeeded in New Zealand, Australia, and Europe. State and county agencies, constrained by short-term management goals, are too close to the problem. In Mendocino County, the Agricultural Commissioner has declared the gorse problem insoluble. The missing element in his failed programs and those in other U.S. locales is precisely the lack of neighborhood level stakeholder involvement in on-the-ground conservation projects that protect, enhance, and/or restore native plant communities on public and private lands.
If the project involves work off federal land, explain the direct tie or benefit the project will have to biotic resources on federally-managed lands and the proximity to those lands. Attach a map to display the relationship of the proposed activities on private lands to public lands. If the proposed work on private lands might use funds provided by the BLM, include a statement signed by the private landowner indicating that s/he is aware of the requirement to sign a legally binding agreement with the BLM to protect the taxpayers' investment. Contrary to generally accepted wildlife "wisdom" it has been shown that gorse seeds are indeed ingested and carried by birds. If federal lands within the natural ranges of these birds is subject to invasion by gorse, it is at risk.
ADDITIONAL INFORMATION (attach only one hard copy of the following items) Organizational (federal agencies need to submit A only)
Project staff and their qualifications.
Ownership of Affected Lands
Management Outcome on Affected Lands
Species of Management Concern
see accompanying list
Grant Partners and Challenge Grant amounts
BUDGET -- draft 1 (submitted)
GorseGrant.wpd 28 May 1999
prepared by Michael Potts
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