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Caspar Counters Gorse Invasion
Caspar, February 14th, 1999
During their regular monthly community meeting on the second Sunday in February, residents of Caspar heard plans for a Gorse Grubbers Ball and Gorse Workshop in March.
The gorse control effort will begin with a benefit dance on Saturday evening, March 6th, at the Caspar Inn, featuring the Casparados, led by Caspar recording artists Meridian Green and Gene Parsons. Lilybet Parson, Bill Bottrell, Phil Dunn, and Richard Feinbop will also perform with the band. Music starts at 9pm, and admission will be $10 "...or more, if you care to help us out," according to Green. Many remember this band's dynamic last appearance at last year's Gorse Festival. "There's plenty of hard work ahead," Green added, "so we ought to start out by having some fun!"
At the Gorse Workshop, to be held on Saturday, March 13th at Jughandle State Reserve at Caspar's northern border, experts from California's State Park Department and local experts will explain techniques for removal of exotic plant pests. Participants will meet at the Jughandle parking lot at 11am, and will return there by 3pm. Special attention will be paid to gorse, Ulex europaeus, a particularly invasive and unwelcoming brush species that is threatening to take over many coastal properties. The workshop will convene at 11am at the Jughandle parking lot. Participants are urged to bring shovels, mcleods, pry bars, weed-wrenches, and sturdy gloves and clothes. "Gorse fights back! And this is not work for the faint hearted," according to event organizer Michael Potts. "Bad weather will not deter us," he added. "When the ground is soggy, gorse is most vulnerable. With an invader like this, you want every advantage you can get." Louisa Morris, who leads the gorse eradication initiative for State Parks, assures that "there's plenty of gorse, so everyone will have a chance to pull some at this workshop ...and for years to come."
The history of gorse in Caspar goes back almost a century, when it was imported by a resident who hoped to use it as a natural hedgerow, much as it is used in Europe. Unfortunately, gorse thrives in Caspar's mediterranean climate, and control measures which suffice in its native lands are inadequate along the Mendocino coast. A census of coastal Caspar properties finds that one of four parcels is infested with gorse. According to Morris, "This is an urgent threat. Gorse takes no prisoners. Since 1996, our budget for controlling exotics had diminished, so we need lots of help from volunteers." According to State Parks interpretive staffer Rouvaishyana, biological measures – a spider mite – are slow but effective inland, but it is too soon to say how the mite will succeed nearer the coast.
Along the coast of Oregon, where gorse is also invading public lands, physical removal -- grubbing – burning, and spot applications of pesticide (Garlon is the chemical of choice) are being used with great success, but Caspar residents have opposed the use of chemicals in the past. "For Caspar residents, gorse is often a problem on our own lands, and it's taking over beautiful headlands at Jughandle. If we're unwilling to use chemicals, this community will have to work hard to keep the gorse under control," Potts said.
Pat Ackley, Caspar Community Coordinator, told the meeting, "Bring your friends, because we have enough fun for all, and ample gorse, too." She added that Gorse Workshop attendees can call her office at 964-4997, and she will see to it that their lunches are provided. More information about Caspar may always be found on the village website, CasparCommons.org .
written by Michael Potts
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