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  Habitat Restoration at Andrew Molera State Park
Black Cottonwood

Restoring native plants in Andrew Molera State Park
Top: One of many successful black cottonwood (Populus trichocarpa) trees at the restoration site. Note the blue protective tubing at the base of the tree. Top Lower: Restoring native plants in Andrew Molera State Park. Click small images to enlarge.

Removing irrigation line

Big Sur River restoration site cleanup
Top: VWS intern, Brett Tryon, removing irrigation line. Top Lower: Big Sur River restoration site cleanup, day one. Click small images to enlarge.

Riparian forests, those found along rivers and streams, are among the most biologically rich habitats in North America. In California, less than 5 percent of these diverse forests remain, due to conversion for human uses. The effects of riparian habitat loss have been widespread, including declining migratory bird populations and decreasing water quality.

In 1998, VWS completed a four-year project to restore Creamery Meadow, a 90-acre site along the Big Sur River within Andrew Molera State Park. The purpose of this project is to restore important riparian habitat for the benefit of wildlife and humanity for generations to come.

The restoration site was first utilized by Euroamericans as early as the 1830's. It was used for cattle grazing, agriculture and dairy farming until 1973, when it was purchased by the state. While there are no written records of what type of plant and animal communities existed on the site prior to being cleared, examination of early maps and nearby plant communities with similar soil type gives strong evidence that several riparian habitat types once existed there. With the help of students and volunteers 5,000 native trees and shrubs were planted in the restoration site.

Native trees planted:

  • Arroyo Willow (Salix laseolepis)
  • Black Cottonwood (Populus trichocarpa)
  • Coast Live Oak (Quercus agrifolia)
  • Western Sycamore (Platanus racemosa)
  • Big Leaf Maple (Acer macrophyllum)
  • Redwood (Sequoia sempervirens)
  • California Bay (Umbellularia californica)

Native shrubs planted:

  • California Buckeye (Aesculus californica)
  • Blue Elderberry (Sambucus mexicana)
  • Toyon (Heteromeles arbutifolia)
  • Coffeeberry (Rhamnus californica)
  • Blackberry (Rubus ursinus)
  • Snowberry (Symphorocarpus albus)
  • Dogwood (Cornus sericea)
  • California Honeysuckle (Lonicera hispidula)

Since 1998, California Department of Parks and Recreation has maintained the restoration site project with mowing, non-native plant removal, reinstallation and maintenance of irrigation lines, replanting, and upgrading plant cages. In winter 2005, VWS teamed with State Parks to clean up the restoration materials including irrigation lines, plant protective tubes, and flagging. This cleanup will allow construction of an interpretive trail through the restoration project and historical dairy.

Creamery Meadow Habitat Restoration Project
Click image to see expanded version