Removing non-native plants part of Willows Wetland cleanup plan

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By Gary Luster

The Gardena Willows Wetland Preserve will be taking part in Keep Gardena Beautiful Day on Sept. 16.

Working in conjunction with Heal the Bay, volunteers for the Gardena Willows will spend that day picking up trash in and around the Willows.

John Thomlinson, a Gardena Willows boardmember and professor of biology and ecology at Cal State Dominguez Hills, said that cleaning up the willows, especially at this time of year, is one of their most important tasks.

By Gary Luster

The Gardena Willows Wetland Preserve will be taking part in Keep Gardena Beautiful Day on Sept. 16.

Working in conjunction with Heal the Bay, volunteers for the Gardena Willows will spend that day picking up trash in and around the Willows.

John Thomlinson, a Gardena Willows boardmember and professor of biology and ecology at Cal State Dominguez Hills, said that cleaning up the willows, especially at this time of year, is one of their most important tasks.

“This time of year its very important that they [volunteers] get anything out that would otherwise get washed out such as city trash that could get washed out into the ocean,” Thomlinson said.

The big goal for this cleanup effort is to remove about a dozen of the non-native plants. Some of the non-native plants include the wild radish, cheese weed, and passion vine. Thomlinson said these plants need to be removed so that the plants that are native to the willows can grow.

Thomlinson singled out the passion vine in particular as it tends to grow up over the trees, blocking sunlight and placing much of its weight on the tree, causing it significant damage.

The Gardena Willows participation in Keep Gardena Beautiful Day is just part of its overall effort to maintain a natural reserve that can be enjoyed by all.

Every third Saturday of each month the willows has a cleanup where they employ between five and 10 volunteers to assist in cleanup efforts.

In addition to regular cleanups, for the past 10 years, the Gardena Willows has hosted Sunday Strolls twice a month on the second Sunday and fourth Saturday where the nature preserve staff take visitors on a guided tour of the preserve.

The Gardena Willows Wetland Preserve goals and objectives include the maintenance, restoration, and enhancement of the Willows’ unique natural habitat and native flora and fauna.

The Preserve is also charged with conducting restoration and enhancement programs including water conservation, the reintroduction of native species, and the removal of non-native species.

The Gardena Willows also offers educational programs for the community, including school tours regarding the natural history of the South Bay and the Gardena Willows Wetland Preserve.

The entrance to the Gardena Willows Wetland Preserve is in Arthur Johnson Park (formerly South Gardena Park), between Normandie and Vermont Avenues, one block north of Artesia Blvd at 1200 West 170th Street.