Wednesday, February 20, 2013

THIS JUST IN... Railroad Forest Invasive Plants Cleanup

I attended the City Council meeting last night.  One of the item that was discussed and green-lighted is the beautification project for the Railroad Forest along the bike path behind Frizelle-Enos.

This project would see vast improvements in the area that is now home to invasive plant species, overgrown areas and illegal human activities.

Call: 823-3309

It would change the area from this:

To this...

Lynn Deedler has spearheaded this effort and sent me the following email:

Thanks Bill, I need help.  Sarah (Gurney) has left me with 18 days to work from her many requests which required three council meetings. Attached is a summary and a couple of pictures.

There are two parts to the work. The first is opening up the place, mostly with a tractor mower and chainsaw work to clear out the many broken down trees.  The second is hand work clearing out blackberries among trees and cleaning up the creek. I need help on part one assisting paid crew, perhaps as early as Feb 25, during regular work hours. I have only three thousand dollars to work with to take care of power equipment labor and insurance. I want to do as much as I can with that.  I have to pay power tool users prevaling wages and labor burden. I want to stretch this money.  It will go much farther if I have a volunteer or two to work with the person with the chain saw or tractor. (ie, after limbs are cut they need to be stacked where they will later be chipped. Pulling the limbs allows the person doing the sawing to work with less stopping and things in the way.)

The hand work can continue into April and be organized according to times groups can assemble. Ages 12 to 70.


Did I mention...


Call: 823-3309

So here's the proposal and information if you'd like to volunteer:


The City owned Railroad Forest area is ten acres of which approximately eight acres is covered with dense blackberries. Acacia and Scotch Broom are also prevalent. In among these plants are old railroad tracks, some shapely native trees and Calder Creek.

Initial work would be done using a tractor with a loading bucket and rotary mulching mower behind. The bucket is used to push down the berries and compress the masses that reach ten feet in many areas. The mower would grind the berries into a rough mulch. The tractor would be assisted by a man on the ground. He is there to cut and remove the broken down tree branches mixed in among the blackberries and to provide another set of eyes for the work.

The tractor work would remove the majority of the berries but not all. It would provide avenues into and around the thickets, but because of existing trees, rough terrain, low branches etc. areas are inaccessible. Clearing these areas and pulling vines out of trees is hand work. This is where the volunteer hand labor takes over the removal.


As areas are cleared the ground will be seeded with native plant seed. The seed among other things will be provided by a local environmental contractor, Prunuske Chatham Inc, together with oversight from their staff of environmental consultants.


The regrowth from the berry root balls will be eliminated by spot spraying in mid May, using Garlon 4, a broad leaf herbicide labeled for this application. This herbicide will not effect grasses. This work will be supervised by Dante DelPrete, who is a State Certified Applicator, and familiar with this product. (his concern was public works is short staffed.) My estimate is that this will cost the City $1,000 for treating four acres.

This will complete phase one of the project.  Once the grass is up, once you can walk through the property, see the trees and shrubs that are there, then you can thoughtfully assess what should happen next. Once the land is cleaned and planted with grass, that may be enough. Perhaps only a bench by the creek should be added.


The optimum time for doing this work is in dry periods of the winter months, because:
*Most of the leaves are off and you can see into the thickets and see what you are doing.
*The grass seed needs spring rain to develop.
*State Fish and Game have restricted machine work to this time.


This project is organized by Lynn Deedler, with field work supervised by Lynn and Chuck Sackett. We both have extensive experience in doing this kind of work, and we see eye to eye on how to accomplish it. Chuck is recognized as the best landscape designer and builder in Sonoma County.
Clare Najarian is the volunteer coordinator.  Roger Wilson is the Analy High School volunteer coordinator.  Many environmental professionals have offered to help.


To satisfy the REIC requirements for both liability and workman’s compensation insurance for those working with power tools, employees of Chuck Scakett’s landscape business, Apple Blossom Nursery, will do the work and will be paid their regular wages.  Hand work volunteers will sign a liability release, and are cover by REIC.


The cost to the City of Sebastopol will be for only these employees, permits, some equipment rental, and other direct expensive.  Most equipment will be provided by Lynn Deedler.  First year estimate $3,000 to $5,000.

What will be accomplished

Four acres cleaned and planted this year is the estimate. There are many unknowns; what is in there, weather, and particularly what the volunteers accomplish. Along with a list of prior workers, ten responded following a newspaper story. It is anticipated that once work starts, they will come. Once the City makes a commitment to support this project the scheduling and volunteer recruitment can begin.  Time is short.

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