We’ve been hard at work recently out at our Benton Hot Springs Ranch Conservation Easement, pulling cattails to keep the ponds healthy and brimming with life. A couple weeks ago, ESLT Restoration & Education Coordinators / AmeriCorps Members Abbey Blair and Sara Kokkelenberg, plus ESLT Land Conservation Program Director Sus Danner headed out to the Benton Ponds with ESLT Board Member Tim Bartley and Steve Parmenter, Senior Environmental Scientist with the California Department of Fish and Wildlife. Also joining them was volunteer Paul Page, who brought along his drone to take some spectacular aerial mapping shots of the property!
After Paul flew his quadcopter overhead, Steve attempted to operate his very unique boat – one with large teeth at the bow to cut cattails. Unfortunately the boat did not operate as hoped, so Steve joined Tim, Sus, and Abbey as they strapped into waders and went to work pulling up cattails by hand. Though cattails are native, it’s vital that we keep them in check; if left alone, they will fill the pond completely, making it unsuitable for Owens speckled dace – the rare desert fish for which we are restoring the Benton Ponds habitat.
We thank the landowner of Benton Hot Springs Ranch, Bill Bramlette, for allowing us to test this promising drone technology on his property. Our hope is that monitoring the pond with high quality aerials will improve our detection of new invasive plant populations, allowing us to take action early to prevent habitat loss.
On the whole, the day proved very successful. And we sure got our boots muddy! We will be back at it again soon, and will definitely need help – are you willing to get muddy for a good cause? Please call our office at (760) 873-4554 if you’re interested in volunteering with ESLT to help restore fish habitat this fall!