Last Sunday, AP Environmental Science (APES) students braved the rain to volunteer for a habitat restoration event with Grassroots Ecology at the Ravenswood Open Space Preserve.
From 9 a.m. until noon, APES students planted local species like California mugwort and learned about marsh ecology. Students received a crash course in gardening and then got down on their hands and knees to dig out space for the young plants.
The marsh is a common destination for migratory birds. Each year, thousands of birds travel up and down the Pacific coastline in the Pacific Flyway migration route. San Francisco Bay is a critical stop along the way for many of these species.
The marsh is also one of a few areas home to the endangered salt marsh harvest mouse. The mouse faces extreme habitat loss due to human development along the coastline. Luckily, sanctuaries like the Ravenswood Preserve exist to protect the harvest mouse and other species for ecological benefits and public enjoyment.
Grassroots Ecology Project Lead Barbara Camacho Garcia explained, “We’re a non-profit environmental organization based in Palo Alto. Our mission is to educate people about their local wild spaces and also let them engage with them—connecting people with plants.”
Senior Amelia Peyton, who attended the event, said, “I love doing these kinds of activities because it feels like I’m benefiting the world. I recommend getting out of your comfort zone and trying new things like environmental service because they will give you more control of your future.”
The Ravenswood Open Space Preserve is 376 acres of marshland bordering the Ravenswood neighborhood of East Palo Alto and San Francisco Bay. The Mid-Peninsula Open Space Regional District purchased the land, which was once a salt production pond, and converted it into a preserve open to the public.
According to Camacho Garcia, the preserve lies at an intersection of environmental and social justice causes. Camacho Garcia said, “I really wanted to work at this site in particular because of the history of this land. This area is a historically redlined district, and I love seeing the progress of this land from salt harvesting and landfill to a wildlife preserve.”