SRJC students join for workday at Haroutunian South

November 22, 2021

Posted in: News Articles

SRJC students join for workday at Haroutunian South

Earlier this month, Taylor Acosta, one of our Stewardship Technicians, welcomed a biology class from Santa Rosa Junior College to Haroutunian South for a workday caring for and learning from the land. Haroutunian South is a 21-acre property in southwest Santa Rosa that we purchased in 1995 for its values as a greenbelt in our county’s most populated city, and also for its unique natural resources. The property is home to vernal pools and seasonal wetlands that are home to unique animals and plants such as the state and federally protected endangered Sebastopol meadowfoam and Sonoma sunshine (a teeny-tiny yellow flower pictured in the gallery to the right). California tiger salamander have also been sighted on the property over the years.

During the recent workday with SRJC students, efforts focused on removing old water monitoring pipes, clipping invasive Himalayan blackberry, and pulling out teasel rosettes (photo in the gallery to the right). During the rosette stage, you can pull teasel plants and then leave them on the property to decay and benefit soil health and insects, while in later stages (when they’re bolting) you have to remove the plants from the property to ensure they don’t spread their seeds. One teasel plant can produce up to 3,000 seeds! Students also had time for nature journaling to help reflect on their work and what they’d learned while out on the land. 

While caring for this land over the last 25 years, we’ve spotted king snakes, jack rabbits, deer, and burrowing animals. The property is currently being grazed by cattle owned by a local grazer, which helps manage invasive species and keeps them from impacting sensitive vernal pool habitats. 

Caring for our lands takes many types of support, from the voters who created our agency to the volunteers that sign up for stewardship outings. Last spring we had a bustling outing, hosted by us and our partners at the Laguna Foundation, where community volunteers helped remove a new patch of invasive yellow starthistle (which had never before been reported at this site), and then clipped and lopped two large Himalayan blackberry patches within the sensitive vernal pool area. They also had some time to remove teasel, too!

Looking ahead, we’re working with the Laguna Foundation whose staff will be surveying the property to monitor rare species. They’ve worked with us on this land since 2007 as part of their “Adopt a Vernal Pool” program, and will also be providing us with recommendations on how to manage the property in the future. Keep an eye on our Outings + Events page, and our social media, for future outings to learn from and care for this special place.