BACKYARD HABITAT AND SOD BLITZ

June 15, 2014

On a recent weekend, the Town Hall played host to two events that are worth noting. The first demonstrates how much we love and care for our environment in Woodside, while the second dealt with some of the threats and challenges we must face to preserve that cherished natural environment.

On Saturday, May 17th, the Open Space Committee presented the Backyard Habitat Awards to 50 Woodside residences. The Backyard Habitat Program is designed to encourage and honor Woodside residents who “embrace and utilize the natural beauty of our region” by leaving land in its natural state and creating corridors for wildlife to move about the Town and its surrounding woodlands, fields, and streams.
According to Nancy Reyering of the Committee, there were 49 attendees including two Town COWncil members. Awardees receive a plaque and are thanked for their participation.

Two speakers discussed the importance of the Program to the region’s biodiversity – Nicky Hughes of the Gold Rush Nursery, and Phillipe Cohen, the executive director of neighboring Jasper Ridge Biological Preserve. Mr. Cohen noted the importance of citizens of Woodside and Portola Valley in choosing to protect riparian corridors that run through the Preserve.

The following day, the Town Hall played host to the now-annual SOD Blitz, the regional program lead by Matteo Garbelotto, an adjunct Associate Professor in the Department of Environmental Science, Policy, and Management at UC Berkeley. SOD, or Sudden Oak Death, is the by now familiar pathogen that attacks and kills oak trees, and is often spread by proximity to bay laurel trees. The spring meetings train citizen scientists to take samples from suspected ill trees and then the results are tested and tabulated by Professor Garbelotto’s lab.

In fall, a second round of meetings displays the ever-increasing spread of SOD and discusses mitigation methods before the winter rains. It is possible, if expensive, to inoculate individual trees against the disease.
We at COW are grateful for the good work of Professor Garbelloto and his colleagues, and everyone in the Woodside-Portola Valley area who participates in the SOD Blitz every year. It is especially important that everyone with oak trees on their property to learn about how this horrible disease is spread and what can be done to try to contain the spread. You can learn more about SOD here.

This was a sobering reminder of just how wonderful – and yet how fragile – our beautiful surroundings are.

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