by Anne Child
The Restoration Rangers have been busy with 17 official workdays, one emergency workday and several watering days already this year. We are excited to have new folks joining our ranks from the citizenry of Wimberley and the new class of Hays County Master Naturalists.
The creek rose 13 feet after an 8 inch rain. This gully washer sheared our bridge off the weir and uprooted several of the trees planted in the floodplain. Nearby Restoration Rangers sprang into action and located and replanted most of the trees. Tree cages were found buried in debris; the cages were cleaned up, stretched into shape and put back around the trees. Interestingly, the little cypress tree planted in the middle of the creek bed, that hadn’t looked well before the flood, stayed put and is thriving now. The Hays County Parks Department installed a replacement bridge.
During the first several workdays of the year, we disposed of brush and construction debris that had been collected over the last few years. The areas where the brush had been cleared are coming back strong with grasses, barberry bushes and buckeye trees. It is quite beautiful and rewarding.
More cages were created, mulch was added, and many buckets of water have moistened their roots. We have learned that the Monterrey Oaks prefer moister locations than we provided and that it is possible to over water Texas Mountain Laurels. Most of the trees have survived and are blending into into the landscape.
The great winter rains brought many flowers. Some were appreciated more than others. Texas thistles are pretty purple natives and very prolific at Camp Jacob. We also found some invasive Malta Star-thistles, which were removed. We also pulled Johnson Grass, but not quite as much as previous years. We’re making progress. The real eradication success story is the bamboo. Only a few small shoots popped up this year as a result of our diligent efforts in previous years!
Our summer workdays have found us mostly in the shade pruning up the junipers to allow the other trees, understory growth and grasses to fill in. The plant diversity in the area is beautiful... Eve's Necklace, Wafer Ash, Buckeye, Hackberry, Shin Oaks, Live Oaks and end even the stately huge Old Growth Junipers. Next time you visit Jacob's well, come visit this area.
As we reflect on the tough lessons of last year's drought and this years flood, we are in awe of nature’s fury and resilience… and look forward to our next workday.