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Spring Brook Winter Restoration

May 28, 2024 | Event Photos

Work in the vicinity of the Shoshone wetlands and the Spring brook that runs through them resumed on October 17, 2023, when Cameron Mayer with Friends of the Amargosa helped Christiana Manville of the U.S. Fish & Wildlife Service (USFWS) monitor the plants that were planted in March of the same year. Of the 178 plants planted, 99 were still alive, for an overall survival rate of 55%, not at all bad considering the extreme year-round pressures the plants are subjected to.  In March 7 different native plant species were planted, and survival rates for each species are as follows from best to worst:  Alkali sacaton (tall grass, from 1 gallon pots) 90%, saltgrass (dug up from other locations on the property) 65%, Emory baccharis (shrub, from 1 gallon pots) 60%, three-square bulrush (dug up from other locations on the property) 57%, yerba mansa (forb with big leaves, from 1 gallon pots) 50%, spikerush (dug up from other locations on the property) 25%, and screwbean mesquite (tree, from 1 gallon pots) 25%. Survival of plants around the culvert that runs under highway 127 toward the Amargosa River was low.  Many plant cages that were hindering plant growth were removed, which is a really good thing!

An early challenge that was encountered during this restoration journey is that unfortunately, over time, the weed barrier cloth used in the low-flow Shoshone Springbrook channel did not hold up well against the unrelenting elements and had to be replaced with black plastic in an effort to control ever-pervasive cattails. The plastic was put on top of some of the spikerush and three-square bulrush that had been planted in previous workdays, so survival was impacted. Further, the black plastic was not initially staked and looked ugly.  So, plans were made to peel it back and plant more spikerush and three-square bulrush. The plan continued to involve laying the plastic back and cutting holes for the plants subsequently planted. Finally, the idea evolved to cover the rest of the plastic with soil so that it stays in place and is more natural looking and in tune with the surroundings. And of course removing any existing cattails in the channel or on the banks is always critical!

Work during the Winter of 2024 was accomplished on January 5 & 6, 2024 and February 23 & 24, 2024.  Each day, volunteers worked from 9 am to 4 pm.  Susan Sorrells, the landowner, provided free camping at the campground for those who needed it. A celebratory dinner was also made possible!

 Together in January, a group of hearty volunteers planted a total of 153 new plants along the Springbrook: 91 three-squared bullrush (Schoenoplectus americanus), 46 spikerush (Eleocharis spp.), and 16 Cooper’s rush (Juncus cooperi). Seeds from Coyote gourd (Cucurbita palmata), Emory baccharis (Baccharis salicina), and alkali sacaton (Sporobolus airoides) were also scattered along the north and south banks of the channel. Volunteers successfully caged all the newly transplanted spikerush to protect them from herbivory, and straightened the plastic cattail barrier, ensuring the best chance of survival for the native wetland plants.

Together in February, a group of volunteers, many returning, planted a total of 161 new plants along the Springbrook: 112 three-squared bullrush (Schoenoplectus americanus), 29 Cooper’s rush (Juncus cooperi), 18 saltgrass plugs (Distichlis spicata) and 2 goldenrod (Solidago confinis). The successful transplanting of 20 screwbean mesquite saplings (Prosopis pubescens) was additionally carried out. Each was caged to protect them from herbivory and ensure the best chance of survival.

*Much of the text used for this blog post was gathered and amended as needed from email exchanges between organizing parties, including Christiana Manville & Claire Kett of the U.S. Fish & Wildlife Service, and Cameron Mayer of Friends of the Amargosa Basin.