Discover the World of Native California Grasslands!

Category: Blog, Grasslands, Hidden Nature, LandPaths Preserves, Ocean Song, Ocean Song, slow restoration, Stewardship, Volunteer

By LandPaths Staff

April 25, 2024

Story by Lara O’Herlihy, Stewardship Field Specialist

I’m sitting on a grassy hillside in the Coleman Valley Creek drainage that overlooks the ocean, pulling the invasive bracypodium distacium (False brome) from a small patch closest to me.

The otherwise nearly intact native coastal grassland around me at LandPaths’ Ocean Song-Myers Preserve is a biodiversity hotspot. And it’s home to many endemic serpentine grasses and forbs. In the bloom of spring, the grasses spread across the land in an array of greens, speckled with wildflowers in hues of purple, yellow, red, and blue.

This grassland is a special place. And unfortunately, it’s one of too few.
Predating colonization, industrialization, and the suppression of Indigenous stewardship, California was home to an abundance of coastal grasslands. It is estimated that only 1% of the historic extent of the grasslands in California still exist today.

Without the implementation of stewardship practices such as good fire, forest encroachment thinning, removal of invasive species, and native seed collection, we risk further degradation of these amazing places. In addition to being incredibly biodiverse, grasslands on average are better at sequestering carbon than forests, serve as habitat for many animals and insects, and provide important resources for food, fibers, and medicine that Indigenous people have cultivated for thousands of years. Beyond that, grasses are fascinating and beautiful!

Every Thursday throughout the month of May, LandPaths is hosting volunteer stewardship days in the serpentine grassland at the Ocean Song/Myers preserve. Join us and help remove invasive species, learn about the ecosystem function of grasslands, and how to identify parts of a grass, different species of grasses and forbs. Maybe, like me, you’ll absolutely fall in love with native grasses, maybe you’ll go home with a new favorite grass, and maybe you’ll even get a tattoo of said grass (too far? Well, I did).

Lara O' Herlihy, Stewardship Field Specialist at LandPaths

" It is estimated that only 1% of the historic extent of the grasslands in California still exist today. "

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