Kiri Ando, Stewardship Assistant; Placer Land Trust
So I’m back this year in my beautiful home state of California and with the opportunity to give back to her gorgeous natural scenery by serving with Placer Land Trust! I am thrilled to be a part of the conservation effort in the state that has given me unforgettable camping trips in towering redwood forests, sunbathing on warm, welcoming beaches, and
relaxing boat rides on hot summer lakes. I am of course coming with a list of high expectations for what I will accomplish this year as well as several personal accomplishments I would like to see happen, and some of these have already been checked off!
This past weekend, for instance, was my first big volunteer event. My co-SNAPper Briana and I worked diligently in the days prior, gathering up as many volunteers as we could to come out and plant some native shrubs that attract pollinators with the goal of having a pollinator trail a few years down the road. We had an amazing turn out and got all of our plants in the ground, as well as some invasive ones pulled out of the way. We planted along a proposed trail that is currently in the process of being built, and in years to come as the plants become established, their flowers will attract bees, insects, and hummingbirds for hikers to enjoy!
Since this event I have been on a roll, planning here, working in the field there, and contacting people in between while I’m in the office. Yesterday I installed an irrigation system that will provide water to hundreds of native riparian plants we will be planting this upcoming Friday and Saturday and in the following weeks I will be constructing two different trails as well as organizing a community hike. I’ve made a lot of friends so far, but have also encountered several enemies, namely French Broom, Yellow Starthistle, and my long-time nemesis Himalayan Blackberry. Those guys are everywhere and it’s easy to become discouraged when you’re in over your head (literally) in a patch of broom. I have spent hours pulling, hitting, cutting, and yanking them out in an attempt to rid our land of these awful invasive plants. It’s a long battle but I feel confident that I’ll be able to at least make a dent in their populations this year.
As you can see I’ve had my hands full, and they’ve been dipped in several different kinds of projects. In addition to my stewardship activities, I have big plans to retire after this year by striking it rich panning for gold along the American River, as well as riding my new second-hand bicycle all over Old Town Auburn. I also plan to become an expert west coast birder (saw a Bald Eagle flying at one of our preserves yesterday!) as well as learn to identify a majority of the native plants in the area. One of mine and Briana’s personal cooking goals was recently achieved when we purchased a grocery bag full to the brim of apples for only $3.00. This resulted in a 5-hour cook-off of what we termed, “Apple Things!” from the time we got off work until the time we were sick to our stomachs from eating apple things and were forced to go to bed.
There you have it, America. I am planting, irrigating, taking names, and getting things done. All this, I do in the name of serving the Sierra. I’m feeling accomplished yet inspired to do more, excited to be back yet eager to learn more, and determined to have an excellent year both serving with Placer Land Trust and exploring the Sierra Nevada.