Saturday, Aug. 24, 2019
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Natural Resources

THE INVASION OF INVASIVE NON-NATIVE PLANTS IN OUR WATERWAYS

Arundo

False bamboo, or giant reed, can rapidly spread through our waterways; even into thickly vegetated areas, and crowd out the native plants.  This bamboo looking plant shares a network of shallow roots that trap sediment, becoming a tremendous flood hazard and disrupting stream flow; often times the roots become undercut and break off taking soil with them causing landslides, clogging culverts and channels and redirecting the water. This plant with its unpalatable/toxic chemicals within its tissues provides no food or habitat for native animals; and its virtually non-existent canopy allows sunlight to raise the water temperature, causing water loss through evaporation and poor habitat for the fish by increasing water temperature. It is also a poor habitat for land animals due to no protection from predators and the weather. Arundo fuels dangerous wildfires, causes local flooding, and eliminates native plants and wildlife habitat.

Imagine our sloughs as highways for wildfire! It can happen when Arundo takes over. Arundo is highly flammable and burns even when green. When it carries fire into a waterway, riverside trees are killed and nearby crops and buildings may be destroyed; but Arundo grows back rapidly from its roots, thicker than before, and now without competition from other plants. Arundo transforms a naturally fire-resistant buffer along our sloughs into a threat to our environment and our homes. Arundo consumes more water than native species, Arundo consumes as much as 500 gallons of water per day.  Arundo can also be a tremendous flood hazard. Its shallow roots are easily undercut by stream flow. The roots then break off from stream banks, taking soil with them. Clumps of Arundo float downstream and clog culverts and channels. The obstructions cause flooding and sometimes wash out bridges, resulting in millions of dollars of damage. Large Arundo infestations can alter stream flows by redirecting the water against stream banks, undercutting them and causing landslides.

Due to its rapid growth, Arundo consumes huge amounts of water, turning water use into water waste by consuming three times more water than native plants. The water wasted by Arundo is water that native plants, fish, wildlife, and people need to survive.

Tree of Heaven

Chinese Sumac, Ailanthus altissima, is a deciduous tree up to 60 feet tall, with gray bark. This plant produces abundant root sprouts and seeds, thus forming large areas of thickets that displace native vegetaton, especially in riparian areas; shoots typically have a life span of 30 to 50 years. Tree of Heaven produces chemicals that may prevent native plants from establishing near by. Because they spread rapidly and continuously, they often need to be eliminated, posing a health concern for those who remove them. Hand pulling of young plants is effective, provided most of the root is removed so that resprouting does not occur. When removing or trimming/cutting the trees, wear gloves, long sleeve shirts, and long pants, and make sure you do not have open cuts, ruptured blisters, or other breaks in the skin that are exposed. If the sap from the tree gets into any of the openings in the skin, you can become sick. The sap of the Tree of Heaven contains proteins called quassinoids; that may cause myocarditis (inflammation of the heart muscle) and other heart and gastrointestinal symptoms of illness.

Himalayan Blackberry

Himalayan blackberry is a thorny, thicket forming shrub in the Rose family that produces large, edible blackberry fruits. Leaves are somewhat evergreen, divided into 3-5 leaflets that are rounded and have toothed edges. Flowers are small, white to light pink in flat-topped clusters of 5 to 20 flowers. Stems can grow 20 to 40 feet long and 13 feet tall, they can root at the tips when they touch the ground, and they have stout, hooked, sharp prickles with wide bases. The plant creates dense thickets that are impassable and sprawls over surrounding vegetation. It has large, deep, woody root balls that sprout at nodes. Himalayan blackberry out-competes native understory vegetation and prevents the establishment of native trees that require sun for germination. Dense and impenetrable blackberry thickets can block access of larger wildlife to water and other resources; not to mention causing problems for people trying to enjoy parks and natural areas. Himalayan blackberry is abundant along rivers and wetland edges, often blocking access to these areas. Riversides covered with blackberry often indicate degraded conditions and may mask eroding banks.

 

 

Biological Pollution: What you should know about invasive plants in California

A unique natural heritage
California is home to some of the world’s most beautiful and biologically rich landscapes. From redwood forests to oak woodlands, coastal dunes to desert springs, alpine meadows to delta sloughs, these landscapes are home to an astonishing variety of plants and animals. Many of these exist nowhere else on Earth. Unfortunately, these landscapes are being destroyed by invasive plants. Human development has disturbed nature’s processes, and every day invasive plants degrade more of our treasured natural heritage.

What are invasive plants?
When plant species that evolved in one region of the globe are moved to another region, a few of them flourish outside cultivation in their new home, crowding out native vegetation. These invasive plants have a competitive advantage because they are no longer held in check by their natural predators, and they can quickly spread out of control.

How do they get here?
Shipping, international travel, and the aquarium and horticultural trades are major routes of introduction.

How do they spread?
• Fragments break off and regrow
• Birds or mammals carry seeds
• Seeds are blown by the wind
• Clothing and vehicles spread seeds
In addition, some invasives are still used in landscaping.

Threatened wildlife
Invasive plants rob sunlight, nutrients, and water from native plants, which wildlife depends on. Invasives damage habitat for at least half the species federally listed as threatened or endangered. In California, 415 special status species are threatened by invasive plants.

Diminished outdoor recreation
Hunting and fishing are less rewarding, even impossible, when wildlife is under stress. Invasive plants can blanket waterways, trails, and scenic landscapes, making boating, hiking and other activities difficult, while lowering the land’s value for photography and wildlife viewing.

Degraded range and timber lands
Invasive plants impact working landscapes that support agriculture as well as wildlife. Rangeland invaders such as yellow Starthistle can be low in nutrition and even toxic to livestock, and removal costs decrease land values. On timber lands, Scotch broom invades forest openings, preventing tree seedling growth. U.S. agricultural losses to invasive weeds are estimated at $33 billion each year.

Increased wildfire potential
Invasive plants generate more fire fuels than the natives they replace. Their rapid and dense growth, along with high flammability, can change fire patterns in an area and be a recipe for catastrophic wildfire. Such fires can take a heavy toll on both wildlife and human communities.

Reduced water resources
Some invasive plants consume enormous quantities of precious water at the expense of wildlife, farms, boaters, and households. Tamarisk trees alone will cost $7-$16 billion in lost water over the next half-century.

Accelerated erosion and flooding
When invasive plants displace natives on streamsides and wetlands, the likelihood of flooding and erosion can be increased. In a vicious cycle, this erosion can enable even more establishment of invasive plants.

The California Invasive Plant Council (Cal-IPC) works to protect California wildlands from invasive plants through research, restoration, and education. The above information was provided by Cal-IPC and more can be found at www.cal-ipc.org.

 

 

Are you Fire-Ready?!

You are responsible for ensuring that your property is fire safe. It is important for homeowners to take proactive steps to protect their property from a wildfire not only in the woodland/urban interface areas, but as we have seen more and more, in the towns and cities as well. Homeowners and renters need to clear out flammable materials such as brush or vegetation around their buildings to 100 feet (or the property line) to create a defensible space buffer. This helps halt the progress of an approaching wildfire and keeps firefighters safe while they defend your home.

New homes to should be constructed with fire-resistant materials. By building your home with materials like fire-resistant roofing, enclosed eaves and dual-paned windows, you are hardening your home and giving it a fighting chance to survive a wildfire. This will also help prevent buildings from being ignited by flying embers, which can travel as much as a mile away from a wildfire. Or existing structures should be hardened for fire safety.

Do you know what to do if you had to leave in 5 minutes or if your family became trapped? Here are six ways you can prepare your home, family, animals, and property to survive any fire emergency.

#1 & #2 – Take a few minutes to keep your home, family, and possessions safe & protect from Embers –                    Click #1&#2
#3 & # 4 – The six Evacuation Advisories you must be prepared for & the Evacuation Checklist –

Click #3&#4
#5 & #6 – How to keep your animals safe before, during, and after an evacuation & what to do if you become trapped in your home – Click #5&#6

Click Here to find more helpful tips that may save you, your family (two legged and four legged), and your property. And if you have not yet signed up to be notified in the event of a fire, flood or other emergency, now is the time to register. It is free and it’s important, not only for your safety but for the safety of first responders.

MCAlert is used to update residents regarding emergency evacuation during the fire season. By signing up, you will help keep everyone in the community safer including our deputies and firefighters. MCAlert is also used for other natural disasters such as floods, severe weather and missing persons, such as Amber or Silver Alerts when necessary.

To ensure you are receiving alerts, please sign up at maderacounty.com (click on the MCAlert logo) or go by the Madera County Sheriff’s Office to complete the form in person.
The system is free and beginning May 1, 2019, the phone number for calls from MCAlert has changed. Registered users should program the number 1-800-915-2371 into their phones as “MC ALERT” and if possible, assign a unique ringtone to this number to further prompt you to pick up.