Notes from the Field | Watering for Mother Nature

restoration photo
Keeping our plants hydrated has taken the incredible work of our volunteers and many buckets of water.

We have been making a lot of noise on our blog and on Facebook about rain (or lack of it) during this planting season.  It’s a big deal to us because water is essential for our plants to successfully establish.  Every plant that goes into the ground represents a significant effort by volunteers and staff to sow, grow, transplant, and plant.  Multiply that effort for one seedling by 30,000 and you can understand how attached we are to making sure that each plant has all the resources it needs to establish, and that includes adequate water.

Our plants are irrigated in the nursery and are used to regular watering.  When we plant them into the ground, we give them a healthy dose of water to get them started and to help them adjust to their new environment.  After that, we rely on rainfall and watering by volunteers to help them survive.  We purposefully install our plants during the rainy season in order to give the new seedlings the best chance for long-term survival.

We also try to be cost-effective so we don’t install expensive irrigation systems at our sites, relying totally on volunteers and staff and Mother Nature to supply the water to our establishing plants.  We typically use 5-gallon buckets filled with hoses from 100-gallon tanks that are transported in the back of our work trailers.  Our sites are scattered throughout the Bay, so it’s a big challenge to make sure every plant gets watered frequently enough to survive.

During the last two years, there has been little to no rain during our planting seasons which has required us to find creative ways to ensure that our plants get adequate water.  This year we added pumps to our large tanks in order to get more water to our plants during programs.  This also allows our staff the ability to refill the tanks during programs that are near a water source.  We have pulled staff from other tasks to spend days dedicated specifically to watering.  We are also very grateful for partner organizations who have joined us in this drought-year challenge by providing larger water trucks at our more remote sites so that we can refill our smaller tanks and for site partners who have watered our sites with their water trucks when they are in the vicinity.

We are thankful to everyone who is helping to keep our plants hydrated during this drought, but most of all, we are thankful to our volunteers who come out and literally, bucket by bucket, carry water to our plants to ensure that the hard work of hundreds of volunteers hasn’t been in vain and to help these new plants establish.  Many thanks to our dedicated staff and to all of our Water Warriors!

–Donna Ball, Habitat Restoration Director