This is a proposal to establish a new set of grasslands preserves in California, each containing at least 100 acres and located every 15 miles across State and restore each of those 100 acres back to at least 99% native plant cover, as part of the "99%-USA-Biota-Preserves" project.
The purpose of these 700 preserves, would be to capture good examples of the 300 species of native grasses we have in California, plus capture some of the genetic ecotypes and variations we have for those species.
Our generation is what I call--the "Bookend to John Muir"--in that John Muir preserved pieces of California from 1876-1890 when there were still a lot of pieces to preserve; and our generation needs to conserve the last remaining tiny good pieces, while they are still here, of the 1/10th of 1% of the native grassland ecosystems that remain in 2011.
About one-third of California area is public lands that have been intentionally preserved, like our National Parks, National Forests, National Monuments, Wildlife Refuges and BLM lands, State parks, Open Space Districts, County parks, and city parks.
Sometimes good examples of California native grasslands have been unintentionally preserved, like around airports (like at Santa Rosa), along Caltrans highways and county roadsides, on military bases, and within town and city limits.
In California, wherever grazing animals have been excluded for many decades, along the fenced highway roadsides, around airports and within military bases that do not allow grazing, these areas sometimes contain the last remaining and best examples of native grasslands in an area.
In California, with over 30 million acres of intentionally and unintentionally preserved land, there has been no large scale effort to restore these lands back to 100% native plant cover, or to budget adequate annual money to eradicate the weeds on these millions of acres.
Setting aside 100 acres every 15 miles across California, as Biota-Preserves would establish restoration of the grasslands as the primary purpose for creating this new set of preserves, instead of that purpose becoming lost or forgotten. That is why "99%" is put first in the name for these new preserves.
To be able to achieve 99% pure native cover--fortunately private land restoration projects like Michael Shaw's 74 acres in La Selva Beach that is 95% native cover and Mark Vande Pol's 14 acres weeded back to 99.5% native cover near Scotts Valley--so everyone should know that it is possible to get 100 acres anywhere in California back to very close to 100% native cover in 2011.
The 700-100 acre preserves would help preserve insitu the native grass species and genetic ecotypes, and the animal diversity we have across California. And the purpose of these new biota refugia is to restore them to 99-100% native plant cover within a particular amount of time.
Perhaps this new set of preserves could start slowly, and then increase over time. For example, a preserve established every 200 miles throughout the State, and each could be restored to 99% native plant cover. When that first set of preserves are underway, then preserves established every 100 miles, then every 50 miles, then every 15 miles, until the process is completed.
Perhaps some of the purchased preserves, the local California Indians could be put on the deeds, to help compensate for the 18 treaties that we signed with their ancestors, and then forgot to ratify these treaties in Washington DC--never giving them any of the land we promised, and then to cancel the whole deal from 1835-1903 when the Mexican government, then our State and Federal government paid the settlers a bounty to wipe them out.
This new set of preserves, could possibly be used as carbon sinks for our fossil fuel and coal burning, to help sequester some of the carbon that we are putting into the air. Or they could serve as mitigation banks for other real estate developments in the surrounding areas.
On the San Francisco peninsula, there are areas that already contain good examples of native grasslands, where 100 acre preserves could be created, and those areas restored to 99-100% native plant cover.
Agencies in the Bay Area have perfect lands for this purpose, like the Endangered butterfly grassland habitats at the San Bruno Mountain Park, POST grasslands along the San Mateo County coastside, Mid-Peninsula Open Space lands like Russian Ridge, Skyline Ridge, Monte Bello Preserve, Windy Hill, etc., and Edgewood Park in Redwood City with its serpentine wildflowers, the Caltrans serpentine roadcuts along I-280, plus at least 100 acres of the native grasslands within the San Francisco Crystal Springs reservoir watershed.
The public agencies that already own these
lands, and want to be a part of this
new system of preserves, should record that fact on the deed to
their lands, at their County Recorder's Office, and place the
preserves on the maps to their lands, and on their web sites,
and place signs on the borders of these new preserves. State and
County Highway Departments could do the same, and include signs
along the preserved stretches of roadsides, to educate the public
to their efforts.
Updated December 20, 2022 - Go to The Reveg Edge website