News: Marines’, sailors’ thumbs go green in San Francisco
Story by Cpl. Kenneth Jasik
SAN FRANCISCO - A force of 75 Marines and sailors participating in Fleet Week San Francisco used their expertise in attention-to-detail to help stop the growth of an invasive species within Presidio of San Francisco National Park, Oct. 7.
The Marines and sailors focused on three areas of the park: Baker Beach, the Marin Headlands and San Francisco Bluffs. At each of the sites, the service members’ mission was to remove non-native plants growing and taking all the resources within the park.
“We cleared a slope of ice plant and cape ivy in order to restore the native California habitat,” said Shelley G. Estelle, a biological science technician with the park service who took on the role of directing the Marines and sailors.
Ice plant was placed on hillsides by the Army in the early 1900s to reduce erosion. When the Army base closed in 1994 and Park Services took over, they began working to restore the land to its original state. The park is the only natural habitat to five of the area’s endangered species, according to Estelle
“By removing this, a lot of birds will come back, and a lot of different plants and animals will come back,” said Lance Cpl. Dylan M. R. Mitchell, a field wireman with 9th Communications Battalion.
The ice plant, which evolved and competed with different kinds of plants in South America, was taking over the land because none of the local plants had the attributes necessary to survive while competing for resources. To save those plants from extinction, the Marines and sailors cleared the non-native plants. Park services continue to maintain the lands and ensure none of the invasive species will return.
“This was awesome,” said Estelle. “The project we did today – I didn’t think we could do with regular or corporate groups or community drop-in programs. [The hill] was a little too steep, but these folks were up for the task at hand.”