The Habitat Restoration Team works to preserve and improve the habitat for both plants and animals at the Preserve. Sometimes the animals have their own ideas about what we are all about. In January of 2011 we planted the fields on both sides of the Visitor Center with Valley Oak acorns. The acorns were collected at the Preserve months ahead of time and put in cold storage to prevent germination until we are ready to plant them. To be clear, there are no acorns on the ground available to any of the wildlife that might want to eat them when HRT is ready to plant. On a predetermined workday, HRT gathers a crew of volunteers and spends the day working the earth to create individual sites for each acorn to grow and flourish.
However, we rarely plant in areas with dense human habitation. Areas like The Visitor Center. Raccoons, however, often visit areas of dense human habitation looking for food. They, the local raccoons, found a ready-made feast of acorns neatly laid out on biodegradable tablecloths (our weedmats) complete with a decorative locator tube (our tree protectors). They knocked down every tree protector in the field and had a feast. We had a lot of groans along with a few smiles. Mother Nature is always in charge and the joke was on us.
We are certain that the raccoons were the culprits because they left their fingerprints behind and, the crime scene fits their MO.
So what did we do? We came back to plant another day. Of course.