City’s ‘Let’s Work’ program clears invasive plants from Quarry Park

January 31, 2022 — by Sara Bright and Carolyn Wang
Photo by Carolyn Wang
Volunteers help identify and remove French Bloom plants, which destroy native species and create a fire hazard.

On a crisp, Saturday morning on Jan. 8, junior Anjini Mani hiked the trails of Saratoga’s Quarry Park in search of a green, flowering shrub known as French Bloom. Peering through the undergrowth, she trekked alongside eight other volunteers participating in the city of Saratoga’s “Let’s Work” program.

The program was founded in 2015 by former Parks and Recreation Commissioner (PRC) and current Saratoga Trails Advisory Committee member Ping Li with the purpose of maintaining Quarry Park’s trails, mostly through the removal of the invasive French Blooms. The group is now under the leadership of PRC Vice Chair Anna Huang.

“Our focus is to control the invasive plant, [which] was introduced from Europe but escaped to the wild,” Huang said. “This yellow flowered shrub can crowd out native species, grow large and tall and form clusters.”

 The plants are also highly fire hazardous, making them a threat to the park and its hikers.

“Let’s Work” volunteers meet the second Saturday of each month from November to April. They gather at the entrance to Quarry Park before entering to search for the invasive plants, clearing areas pre-identified by PRC commissioners. 

When the volunteers come together, Huang debriefs the group, educating them about the history of the park, the French Bloom problem and potential dangers like poison ivy and ticks. They are then provided with tools and other accessories like Weed Wrenches, which help remove larger plants from their roots.

“We arrived and hiked up one of the trails, picking any weeds we saw along the way,” Mani said. “If you walk around the park, there’s piles and piles of all the weeds that we pulled out from this one area that was super overgrown. After pulling out the [French Blooms] we felt like we really accomplished something.”

Mani learned about the program after looking for volunteer opportunities. Students who sign up can use the program to fulfill their volunteer hour requirements.

Without the seven years of continued work the program has done, Huang believes the park wouldn’t have been as pristine as it is today. 

“Saratoga’s beautiful and well-maintained parks and trails

attract residents and other visitors. They are a source of pride for our community,” Huang said. “Most importantly, [“Let’s Work”] also helps students go out to meet others and enjoy nature.“

 

To help combat the invasive plant problem at Quarry Park, visit https://www.saratoga.ca.us/278/Volunteer

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