This fourth edition of The LIRA Times is an update on the volunteer effort to remove non-native Algerian sea lavender (Limonium ramosissimum, a.k.a. LIRA) and share some lessons learned from that effort. The update covers our work from January 2022 to mid-May 2023, a period when Greens at Work volunteers removed LIRA from seven sites in and adjacent to Hoffman Marsh and San Francisco Bay.
The 2022 summer months were especially productive and provided a lot of fun and camaraderie among the dedicated volunteers who turned out regularly to help. During the summer, we removed a significant number of LIRA plants. The numbers dropped dramatically in autumn, with only 10 LIRA seedlings showing up along the southern edge of Hoffman Marsh in November. In December, we removed small infestations at East and West Stege Marsh. In addition to weeding out LIRA, we have also been removing as much trash and wood as possible, since these items impede the growth of shore and marsh plants and also break down (plastic) and leach toxins (treated lumber, telephone poles) into the Bay and eventually the ocean. The source of the lumber, poles, and pylons is a mystery but does suggest that at least the lumber is potentially construction waste that is being dumped illegally.
In 2023, the frequent winter rains slowed us down a bit but did not completely dissuade volunteers from removing LIRA from along the East Bay shoreline. We organized the first work party of the year on January 1, 2023, when a small crew came out to the Riprap Jetty to celebrate the New Year while removing exactly 1,370 LIRA seedlings as well as five huge bags of trash. On January 3, we went out to Marina Bay and removed another 1,005 seedlings but spent the rest of January hauling out trash from alongside the Bay. Rainy February, March, and April capped our work parties for the three months at a total of 11. During the first half of May, we ventured out four times.
Our updated tally reflects the removal of 874,575 LIRA. Will we reach one million? Time will tell.
While removing LIRA during this period, volunteers also did an amazing job collecting trash, and we have now reached a grand total of 514 huge garbage bags of every description of trash removed from our marshes and the Bay. Trash items included primarily plastic (including packaging and snack bags), tires, car parts, a stove, a wheeled platform, mattresses, blankets, clothing, shoes, wood debris, and more. This count does not include the tons of trash collected separately by Rob Kirby, who has collected more trash than anyone.
So, what have we learned? We’re seeing how quickly nature responds to a healthier habitat. Native marsh plants are filling in the areas where the LIRA plants have been removed and the barren areas where pesticides had been applied prior to summer 2019. Native cord grass (Spartina foliosa), home to the Ridgway’s Rail, rebounds quickly when sheets of plywood and pylons are removed from the marsh edge. And every now and then, you discover a native plant that you’ve never seen before, such as seaside arrow grass (Triglochin maritima) at the northwest end of Hoffman Marsh. Retired Point Pinole park supervisor Britt Thorsnes spotted this plant as a member of a Greens at Work crew collecting heaps of trash brought to the marsh edge by high tides. We’ve also learned that people are uplifted when they see volunteers at work and even more so when they offer to roll up their sleeves and come to work with us.
Our sincere thanks to City of Richmond Abatement Division staff and East Bay Regional Park District rangers for their speedy and always friendly responses to our requests to pick up the trash we collect and place on Rydin Road or on the trail.
—Jane and Tom Kelly, Greens at Work
To learn more about the Greens at Work LIRA removal effort, read Jane and Tom Kelly’s three previous Bay Leaf articles about the project:
Algerian Sea Lavender Removal Project July 2020
Chasing LIRA: It Can’t Outrun Greens-at-Work August 2021
The LIRA Times June 2022