Coast live oak woodlands are common in the Elkhorn Slough watershed. At Elkhorn Slough NERR, the overstory is made up exclusively of coast live oak, and common native understory plants include poison oak, sword fern, California blackberry, hedge nettle, snowberry, coffeeberry, beeplant, and miner’s lettuce. The California Wildlife Habitat Relationships System lists over 200 animal species, including mammals and a wide range of birds, that live in or otherwise use coastal oak woodlands in Monterey County. In the Elkhorn Slough watershed these include nesting white tailed kites and golden eagles, and seasonally, Santa Cruz Long-toed Salamanders.
The Elkhorn Slough NERR has been successfully restoring coast live oak trees for over fifteen years. In the 1990s, staff, volunteers, and work crews removed a 13-acre exotic eucalyptus grove on the northern portion of the Reserve and, in its place, planted thousands of coast live oak acorns. Today, an open oak woodland, interspersed with scrub and grassland habitat, is developing in the area.
Volunteers, school groups, and staff have also successfully planted hundreds of oaks elsewhere on the Reserve, restoring widely scattered oak trees known to have existed historically, but lost during the mid-1900s. More recently, as previously planted oaks have begun to mature, Reserve stewards have focused on oak understory restoration projects. We have successfully removed acres of invasive Cape ivy and English ivy (shown below), and we are currently experimenting with native shrub, forb, and grass plantings.
Current Stewardship Projects: