Grapes Takeover Tall Forest
Saturday was day one in what may be a long journey in the control of a native California grape that has “overtopped” large sections of The Tall Forest. Like the Kudzu vine in our Southeast and the Strangler vines in the tropics, our native grape is out of balance with Cosumnes River Preserve Valley oaks. In just 5 years, this previously minor component of the riparian forest has grown to alarming proportions and is threatening the health of the very habitat that the grape depends on. We do not want to eradicate our grape, even if we could, so our approach will begin by cutting the vines at the base of some of the Valley Oaks that they are overtopping. Leaving the dead vines intact that are climbing the oaks will enable us to monitor the health of these trees by drone. Treating small groups of trees throughout the forest while leaving the areas around those groups untouched will make those dead grape vines look, when viewed from above, like brown polka dots on a green blanket. We will be able to tell by monitoring this patchwork of vine cutting if this surgically focused mechanical approach will be enough to bring things into balance. It is just the first step in a cautious systematic search for an environmentally sound solution.
Near the upper right-hand corner, the pale green blob with a bite taken out of it’s left hand-corner, is a prime example of the grapevines ovortopping the oak trees.
The Habitat Restoration Team entering The Tall Forest.
Grapevines climbing an oak tree.
Alex (in the green shirt) stands behind the massive vines that support the growth.
We cut the vines high (notice the chainsaw near the lower right corner).
And we cut them low.
When we clear the encroaching vines around the trunk, we call it good.
The heat, the aggressive wasps and the poison oak convince Alex to cool everyone off with a dip in the Cosumnes.