Holly Sletteland - Contact Holly
Sweet Springs - East Beach
A Word of Thanks, and an Important Invitation
by Holly Sletteland
I'm not sure whether this is the right forum for this, but then again, I don't know what is. I need to express a heartfelt thank you to people I don't even know. I hope that whoever you are, you read this and recognize yourself.
In May of this year, we installed what we call an "iron ranger," a term borrowed from the park service. The iron ranger is simply an unattended receptacle for the collection of fees, or in our case, the collection of donations to support the preserve. We installed it thinking we might collect a few extra bucks here and there that would help defray some of the costs for maintaining the preserve.
I've been overwhelmed by the response we've received. I am absolutely in awe of the generosity of our visitors. We've had scores of good Samaritans provide their support and not a one has given their name or asked for a receipt. The preserve has obviously won a lot of hearts, and we will do our best to keep it a special place that will draw you back again and again. Thank you, Anonymous, one and all!
I'm hoping some of that same generosity of spirit rubs off on others this month. September is the month that Audubon launches its annual fund drive. And if there was ever a time that we needed funds, this is it. We will be submitting our application for a Minor Use Permit to the county this month for the expansion of the Sweet Springs Preserve to include the eight acres to the east, on the corner of 4th Street and Ramona.
Our plans call for building new trails, a boardwalk, and a viewing platform overlooking the estuary. There will be a new entrance on 4th Street with disabled parking and access to an ADA compliant trail. We will be replacing the chain link fencing with post and rail and installing a new kiosk and interpretive signage.
Although we are actively seeking grants to cover many of these improvements, funding from government agencies and foundations is in short supply these days. Not to mention that we have already received considerable assistance just to acquire the property and get this far in the planning process. Now it is our turn. Everyone who looks forward to being able to enjoy an extended stroll through the preserve and a chance to revel in a spectacular view of the bay, Morro Rock and the sand spit needs to do their part.
Just think of all of the special places that we enjoy today that are only there for us because farsighted people made the effort to save them and provide access to the public. This is our chance to leave something very special to those who will come after us.
But we need to do more than just open our wallets. We also need to give of our time. We want the new addition to serve as a refuge not only for people, but for wildlife and the plant communities they depend on. Unfortunately, this property has been overrun by a variety of invasive plants that have seriously degraded its habitat value. Working together, we can change that. We can rescue the remnants of silver dune lupine and purple sand verbena and mock heather that are barely hanging on there. We can pull together to eliminate the invaders from other continents—veldt grass, slender iceplant, and African daisy. We can plant natives in their place, returning common favorites such as California poppies, black sage and coastal buckwheat to their rightful home. We can also return some of our natives that are becoming increasingly elusive, such as the rare San Luis Obispo monardella and endangered Morro manzanita.
Join us for the first of many volunteer events to come on the new addition to Sweet Springs on Saturday, September 24th from 9am to 1pm. This promises to be a fun event for everyone with a few introductory remarks from community leaders, a quick tour of the proposed trail route, and a chance to be among the first to help restore the preserve to its full potential. A number of lucky volunteers will walk away with raffle prizes donated by local businesses and Together Green, a nationwide initiative funded by Toyota and Audubon to engage new volunteers in conservation efforts. Plenty of munchies and drinks will be available for all volunteers, also courtesy of local businesses and the Together Green program.
So mark your calendars now for Together Green – Act Today, Shape Tomorrow on September 24th! Layered clothing, sturdy shoes, and a hat are the recommended attire. Bring gloves, trowels, and shovels if you have them (but don't worry if you don't – we have plenty). And please let us know that you're coming so we can make sure we have enough food and supplies. Call 239-3928 or email MCAS.org.