EOC 193: Wildfires to Wildflowers: Ildiko Polony and Eco-Activism
welcome to is on conservation episode. One Ninety Ninety three. I'm kristen teach the producer and host of today's episode before we dive in to ask you a favor if you haven't made a pledge to our patriots hatred on page yet I encourage you to do so producing this. Content takes a lot of time and hard work and to do it on a regular basis. We need need regular support. Suu Please head. Over to Patriot dot com slash wildlands collective and choose a pledge level for one dollar month you get quality the environmental storytelling every two weeks. Thanks for your support now onto the show. Let's talk about the climate crisis and the extinction crisis. It's not hard to feel like there's nothing we can do to stop these cascading cascading and devastating global environmental trends. It's like we're literally carrying the weight of the world on her shoulders and it feels too big too heavy. That's where wildfires to wildflowers. Comes in Ilga. Polinje is the founder and visionary of this new organization whose mission is to restore California lands for climate stability and reach carbon negatively by twenty forty. Six I just had lunch with Ildiko Toco. And she'll tell us a little bit more about her organization and why she started it. Hey L. Toco great to see you tell me a little bit more about your background in Ecology Environmental Science and how you became an activist. I've been an activist Most of my adult life I started with actually Hurricane Katrina Relief and then climate activism. I found it a few student groups on campus. When I was at City College of San Francisco Go and Northern Virginia Community College and I've done a bunch of small projects. Raising money raising awareness I direct action around the Keystone Don xl pipeline and then. I was sort of awakened to habitat restoration because I actually burnt out From all the activism visited the school when I was a professional dancer and I was just I was working really hard and I spent about a semester gardening in my backyard and I discovered just this plethora of wildlife that existed in my tiny mission district backyard without any attempts on our part to help it survive and I asked myself of all of this can be here Dr Despite over two hundred years of paving and polluting and the second most densely populated city in the country. Which is San Francisco? What could be here if we actually tried to help nature sure? And how do we help nature. And so. I started googling around and I learned it. was you plant the plants that the animals evolved with so that would be in this case California California native plants plants native to San Francisco. And so I started doing that And just sort of learning on my own. I had already in school been studying environmental sciences environmental studies. I've been studying both the social and the You know a biotic and biotic components of our environmental issues and then I even focused even more on habitat restoration in urban areas in particular killer. So I sort of switched my coursework and then I also started volunteering. Not In like the Golden Gate Park Oak Woodland in just little little remnant patches of habitat in this in this city that we're never bulldozed. I've started volunteering doing restoration in teaching myself as much as I could and it led me to a career in less. Yes so it's really interesting how you're quitting. You know of them with gardening thing and habitat restoration. Can you just go into a little bit more detail about that. Well I see gardens as as a gateway way anybody who has any amount of open space that could even be a window sill can figure out what plants are native to to their area what animals still exist in their area. What plants? Those animals might enjoy and they can put those plants in their window sill in in their backyard in their front yard on their fire escape on their porch on their deck they can go into their local open space and begin volunteering doing invasive species removal or planting plants or collecting seed them. Grow the plants So it's a really hands on immediately a satisfying experience because you see the fruits of your work right away so kind of activism that I was doing before was a lot of political pressure which is incredibly important and anybody who engages in it is doing God's work but it also requires a different kind of patients I think because these social systems move quite slowly and we don't often see the fruits of our labor right away The ecological systems you can begin to see the fruits of your labor right away and and there's something that that feels feels deeply deeply gratifying when I think of You know the environmental sort of crisis that we're teetering on the brink of or that we're engaged in right now Both are both are important. The political approach in the political pressure is incredibly important. And so two is the hands on actual work of restoring the damage that that we've done over the centuries and millennia and all this lead. Ut found wildfires wildflowers. Tell me about that spark. I was reading this article in the San Francisco Chronicle about Jerry Brown's Global Climate Action Summit that he was holding in San Francisco bringing bringing together all these leaders to talk about climate change as the trump administration was pulling out of the UN climate accords and at this summit Jerry Brown announced an executive order that California would be carbon negative by the year. Two Thousand Forty six and the article that I read said that this was not possible that we didn't have the technology that the technology that did exist was NASLUND NASLUND and underfunded and too expensive and couldn't be scaled up and not once did any of these articles that I read mentioned plants or habitat restauration or photosynthesis and plants obviously have been sequestering carbon for billions of years and so we need more plants and we need the right plants in the right place that support the ecosystem that those plants are a part of. Now let's talk about the place so I went on your third wildfires. The fires to wildflowers hike in it was at it was in Marin County at. Where was it ring mountain? Okay and why Ring Mountain Well Ring Mountain is a really beautiful example of a relatively intact native perennial grassland so One of the largest largest ecosystems or or the cover the most geography in California are grassland ecosystems. There are also some of the most degraded ecosystems They're just run run thoroughly run over by with invasive annual grasses mostly from Europe and they've lost a lot of their ecosystem functioning because ring mountain has has what's called serpent tonight soils so that the bass rock of a lot of Ring Mountain is Serpentine Rock. which has high levels of naturally existing mercury and mm sulfur and ESTES and other minerals that most plants around the world have a hard time dealing with plants that evolved in the in these conditions can and those are the native plants? Seraing mountain is a really good example of intact perennial grasslands that used to cover all of our Grasslands Slams California and perennial grasses have a really amazing role to play in carbon sequestration because their root system reaches up to ten feet into the ground while their greenery up top. Is You know maybe two feet maximum. So they're actually the carbon that they're sequestering is going into to the ground more than it's going into the air which is what we need. The soil is depleted of carbon and the soil worldwide is a major carbon sink. So that's where the carbon needs to go. Okay so now. Let's go to ring mountain and go on a little walk. Good Good Morning. I'm ILDIKO policy. I'm the founder of wildfires wildflowers. The tagline is restoring California lands for climate stability eighty. What we'll do right now is we're going to do like a round of introductions so you'll say your name how you spend your time and maybe one thing you hope to get out of the hike and then I'll tell you a little bit about what to expect and then we will walk so I will demo? My Name's Ildiko. I work as a native plant nursery. Soon Manager for a nonprofit in the Bayview district in San Francisco called litters for environmental justice. And in my spare time. I do this and I want to have more time to do this. It because I have like huge dreams and I wanNA actually realize my dreams as much as I can and what. I'm hoping to get out of this. Experience is to give have you guys are good experience and I would love if every person walking out of here like understand sort of the logic of wildfires twelve hours and the potential and this feels motivated and engaged and excited and hopeful and empowered. So yeah if I've done a good job that's how you do it. I'll pass it and so I'm Kristen and I'm holding this microphone because I'm producing a podcast about ILDIKO and this new organization that she's founding and bring us together on hikes. The podcast was called is on conservation. I'm also an avid hiker. And some of my taking gang members are here So I can't wait for this hike. Paul and I'm a board member with the year. Beween chapter is in California's San Society -ociety friend goes. I'm very grateful to be here today. And be part of her organization I'm I'm retired so I spend my days Volunteering doing restoration work in the natural areas in San Francisco and I also lead hikes to help Disseminate what's going on within these natural areas. I took a course at city college which was the first Dallas Certification Course in San Francisco. And they're going to be doing more ongoing one so I'm grateful for being nudity. Thanks so tell me who is Paul. And how did you connect with him so so Paul. Bu Scholars an old friend I met him when I was working as a nursery manager for San Bruno Mountain Watch. I'm he was a board member and and eventually became board share of that organization He is native to California or grew up in California. He's lived a at the foot of San Bruno Mountain Mountain most of his adult life and has spent decades Protecting that mountain learning about the mountain learning about the plants there I think his profession has professional career was in Actually water-management and for the San Francisco Public Utilities Commission. But he is one of the most dedicated naturalists literalist that. I know and is incredibly knowledgeable. I've learned a lot from him. How do you pick where you conduct your aches? And how do you get these amazing. Biologists eligible naturalists in activists. All join in. And what's what is also the impetus for you to bring these people together. I WanNa bring all these these people together because the scale of the problem requires all kinds of minds and thinking All kinds of expertise all kinds of experience all kinds of personalities as all kinds of points of view so a concrete goal is to politicize the habitat restoration community and actually get them presenting their knowledge. two elected officials and then to inform like the climate change activists about actual ecological needs and opportunities ladies So I've observed that while the climate movement is growing. It's really exciting. It's growing a lot. Young people are getting involved. There's not a lot of knowledge about the importance of ecosystem restoration and the end of the bedrock that needs to be protected and enhanced In order to begin to reverse some the worst effects of climate change or at least start to stabilize it so that's one reason and get them involved just by talking to people meeting people Putting myself myself out there sending emails calling people and then someone might introduce me to another person another person and another person. It's making friends really. It feels like making friends. I choose the locations based on sort of strategically a combination of what are places that we know those who are leading hikes and can can can actually talk about and then who do we want to be there. Is this a convenient place for them to come to. And what are the lessons that we're trying to teach in that specific hike And what is a location that will demonstrate those lessons. Thank you so much everybody for that. That was it was really nice to get a sense of like while you're we're here and who you are and it's cool like how many different worlds we all come from. I'm really happy to have like climate reality. People here at Sunrise People here and people who are working taking on that side of the political spectrum also from the naturalists world. Who aren't doing that and I think like the cross pollination of the two super powerful like we if we can politicize the conservation world and then sort of ecologically informed the climate change already politicized grassroots movement like s that we can really be powerful? So right now James's passing out these plant guides and they're just planning but we'll see They might not be in the stage of development that is photographed wrath so a lot of these are photographed with their flowers so they might not be in their flowering stage. But I think that in and of itself as a really kind of beautiful thing that many people who aren't I'm I'm working with nature or exposed to regularly don't quite get is that you know it's pretty obvious but plans change throughout the year and you know we think we we see one photo of a plant. That had always going to kind of look like that but one of the exciting things begin to become familiar with the nuances. Because it's always changing and it's always informing me me anyway. I learned so much so. That's one one goal that I might have is to begin to show show you all these details and how kind of inspiring and beautiful they are just just in the factor exist it just in their mere existence The other thing I wanna say is standing on me. Walk parents host new Auckland right now now. California was stewarded and cared for managed shared with native peoples for thousands five years before Europeans came and the way that the landscaping is today is in large part because of the stewardship in the care of the native peoples for thousands of years so like one of the first blessings that I like to try to get across that humans are actually an integral part of nature and always have been like we always have a keystone species and the way we choose interact with nature is what determines how you know. Nature can thrive or not so the example. That native people set in California for about ten thousand in years is one of A reciprocal more harmonious relationship. But that also greatly was focused on their needs for for food shelter. Culture spirituality crafts so. It wasn't like this hands off thing that you know sometimes we might have been given that impression As as as students like as kids that there's like kind of a hands off attitude and that's the way that nature survives of humans aren't involved but but that's that's not actually the case and so I'll be pointing Out along the trail. Different examples of plants doing different things that are a direct result of CO evolving with humans for like ten thousand years. So that's one one message We'll learn about like what habitat restoration is. I think a lot of people know but but will like break it down like what is an invasive plant what does the native plant what makes it an invasive plant invasive. I'll talk about the global carbon cycle. I'll talk about how restored like why and how restored ecosystem sequester carbon at higher rates than degraded ecosystems. What is a degraded ecosystem? And then we'll do like plant appreciation like plant love so there's GonNa be a lot of like this is the toy and this is the coffee berry this is the thing and and pointing out the different little beautiful parts of these plants and and they really bring me a lot of joy so I had a Kinda Kinda rough week inside myself and And this morning as I was lying in bed wishing I was asleep. I was like how can this this moment with you guys is be something that heals me. You know And and really. The answer is is just Connecting with you connecting with the land and like noticing those details so so all these things come together. The healing comes with the plants plants with with guidance for how to Stewart Orland in the future from the past the way that it was before done before and then another thing that can be helpful is to call the name of the plants. So can we practice that like. That's an oak tree and you can say Oaktree in the best way to learn them is just continue seeing them and then you'll also begins listen to to feel sort of the differences like when it's dry and there hasn't been a lot of rain they may look one way when there's a lot of shade. They may look another way but even though oh two of the same species could look entirely different. You begin to to kind of have a sense for what is what are we ready. Okay good the let's go. There's a bay laurel here and then there's the coast live oak tree growing up in it which is kind of cool breath. Do you see the difference. The Bay and the coast. Why does that happen well? Sometimes it could could be that the show started and sort of the protected shade of the Bay as a young younger tree and then sometimes some some plants can be nursery three nursery plans for others like the Coyote Bush. Does that a lot where it creates a kind of more welcoming environment for for other plants to thrive when they're young so the Bay Cook with it. 'cause everybody know that. Yeah Yeah. It's yeah it's more potent than the one that you get in the store from. Italy groped you can Freshly then smell it. Maybe not this right here is toy on boy on toy gets red berries. There's another Away for Christmas Sierra Earth very sauce like instead of cranberry sauce made on various Saas. They're not quite. That is sweet but they have a really. This is one thing that I love about. Eating native plants is it's entirely unfamiliar flavors but that are also reminiscent of stuff. I've eaten before it's like this whole world of discovery really cool so there's an example. You know soup plans to the same species looking entirely different than you might ask yourself. Why is that off you know whereas this one growing they're more sun here? Is there more sun there. Maybe this didn't get pollinator. Maybe actually looks to me like the various probably probably already fell. So it's an a quick life cycle. Why why could that be? And that's Kinda what like being. A nationalist is like you. You observe you. Ask questions you observes tomorrow and you begin to kind of come up with theories so you you read the landscape. I hear lots of drugs. Yeah lots of frogs about the Frog House GonNa tell us a little bit about the frogs frogs we would call them tree frogs and they need seasonal wetlands for a tadpole. So this right here is cutting the wetland off from the water so one of the like probably one of the most powerful things we could do for these frogs in this kind of habitat would be to create a corridor. uh-huh maybe put the road above maybe get rid of the road and make people go another way but right now the Right where we started here is the debt he you see a Colbert where the the river was or the creek was diverted underground. So like in the city of San Francisco for example. which is where I live? I don't know something like fifteen or twenty. Different rivers have been coverted. Just when I learned that I was like no. They're just never worked. You know that was like mind boggling ogling to me growing up in the city I thought it was always a place where there was no water but actually humans like to settle where there's water right and then we just diverted. Yeah so what if we what if we brought. Those creeks and rivers to the surface in this is poison oak with your very upright. He's brave touching okay. So that's a good point. The roofs the stems and everything are Have the oil on them but this is oxidized unless you scratched it then the oil come out so so you see a little black marks but it's you don't WanNa be breaking convince. Corporate black marks identified it the oil on. Oh just by the sticks good so the the oil is black. If you if you scratch break open the branch black oil will come out. And that's what makes that's what makes you itchy. So I have a story about poison oak poison oak. Really really bad like we would go out in the field and we'd be collecting Cedar Salvaging or whatever no-one else we get poison oak. I would come home. I would like to all of the protective measures. I would like wash everything and I would still be covered employs no then I started taking a homeopathic remedy of poison oak. I started eating it internally and I stopped getting it. If I knew I was going to be going out. I start taking it a few days before and take a few days after I stopped getting it then I kinda stop taking that and I didn't really get I continued to not get it very much. So says if I had built up an immunity then there was a moment where I was on yearbook but when I land in the island. That's in the middle of the bay bridge or the Bay Bridge goes through it and I needed to collect Buckeye nuts. Have we'll see some buckeye trees. I think on this so I needed I needed the Buckeye not for this specific project and it was. I saw the nuts through these big orange nuts and they were like lying on the in the death through a thicket of poison oak. Like I couldn't get to the nuts unless I went through the poison. Oh I was like I'm GonNa go through the poison oak but I was also kind of scared right and so I said a little prayer to the plant. I was like poison oak. I I love you I respect you. Please don't make me itchy and I went through and I got the nuts and you guys know what happens. I did not Poison oak so now every time I see the plant I say I love you. I respect you sincerely. Please don't make me Itchy so You know I did not grow up with these practices at all. I grew up in the middle of the city. I grew up without a backyard but people humans for most of our existence. Assistance have had those sorts of relationships with plants and I myself experienced when I'm relating to plant it relates back to me and it feels really slowly so like we as humans. We create these big cities or we have been creating these big cities and we we isolate our species in these big big cities. And what one thing that we're doing is we're we're preventing the opportunity for friendship with other living things. We have our pets right. So that Kinda shows knows how much we actually crave friendship with other living. Things is that we also have our dogs. There's also soap route so plant here. This was an important food source for native peoples and then it has. If you see here it has this lake fibrous casings. So it's in the onion family so it's got kind of a casing similar onion but more fibrous abreast and with this they used to make brushes. It also has a really soap like quality. The bulb does if you break off a piece of the ball and mix it with water. It's is literally your whole body with it. It's it's like self that you buy in the grocery store and they also use that as one of their primary fishing tools by pulverizing it. And they would milk the water and the calm waters and as a neuro toxin that would affect the fish and they would come to the surface. But it wouldn't kill him so once the water cleared they would be wouldn't have the effects anymore since I tried eating at one time but I didn't I didn't Cook it long enough and it made my stomach a little funny and my friend who aided vomited so it does it does have SAPPINGTON in it. which is the neurotoxin? And also the the thing that makes it soapy so you have to cook it long. Enough for this happens to be neutralized so so there's like a big learning curve with a lot of these foods. They are edible. So this right here kind of on the edge of the path. Here's your Oh. This is a circumpolar. Plant grows all over. The Northern Hemisphere grows in Europe up in Asia. And it's like one of the most early known medicinal plants that humans used So it can be used has like immune-boosting properties ladies and then the leaves. If you crush them you can put them on a wounded and it will stop the bleeding and it spreads through resumes. Sounds like an underground in stem looking for like New Light and nutrients and then it'll send up a shoot so it's a really amazing way that The plant can reproduce quickly quickly because each new shoot becomes a new plant which is like the power of restoration. Okay I'm GonNa do the what is an invasive plant. What is habitat restoration speech? So we've been walking through. You Know Habitat where I've been pointing out a lot of the native plants because those are the ones that you know. I'm happiest about but we've also awesome passing an incredible number of Invasive species so the reason why plants become invasive. I'll talk about that. We have different climates all over the world right California's Mediterranean Iranian climate. So if you think of different regions in the world where wind has grown generally Mediterranean climate. They're generally wear are invasive species. Come from it's not the universal law but that's like a general kind of pattern so like Australia Chile Mediterranean in Europe South Africa So what happens. Is these plans to evolve with similar climates. So they're they're adapted to the to the amount of water to the amount of sign the amount of moisture in the air to maybe similar soils. Maybe not and they're brought over here sometimes birds or other animals but generally to the degree that humans move around and we continue to move around at greater rates weights and you know trading stocks generally come from human. Sometimes they come in the hooves of cattle or animals that we bring. Sometimes they're like attached to the ship sometimes there so they come from human sometimes intentionally sometimes unintentionally and because they're adapted to the same climate. They're really happy here. But what hasn't happened as you know back in their home they co evolved like all the plants do here they co evolved with the fungus and the diseases and the birds and the mammals and all of these things are also eat those plants so the plants are food like like this is why restoration begins with the plant is because the plants brings the insects sex which means the birds which brings the bigger birds which brings the mammals which brings the lizards springs. So it's like a cascading web so one thing that I think is really beautiful to me about learning about habitat and nature is that it is not linear. It is not one-size-fits-all it is it. Is this like interdependent. Co evolving dynamics system that is constantly reproducing itself in constantly growing and it does this because it's revolves together so the plants and the animals discover little niches. And when you bring a plant from another place that hasn't evolved with the predators into the place that it's at the not plant has is nothing puts it in check. So there's a native grass here a non native grass here the native grasses getting eaten because it's been there for thousands of years and all of the animals no no it's similar to go to a foreign country where you didn't recognize any of the food you wouldn't know what to eat and might get a little hungry right. You have to be shown this native plant is getting eaten and eaten eaten and eaten this invasive plant therefore has more room to grow and soon you get a monoculture of invasive species which equals no food or very little food some species might be able to adapt to it. So that's the problem with it. And when we have just a hillside covered and eucalyptus like you can go under the canopy of Eucalyptus you can listen and you'll actually hear career less. It'll be quieter than if you go into an oak woodlands and open your ears. You'll hear more birds you'll hear more life you'll hear it because that's the food. They Volvo Awesome. So the thing that's really powerful about it is. It doesn't take much to flip it in the other direction and humans can have a really active role to play in that. So you can income and you can spend a few hours or a couple minutes or an entire lifetime like Paulsen doing so I'm pulling up. Invasive species and the native plants will have the seed in the in a c bank in the soil so sometimes there might be a hillside covered in English ivy. where the only thing growing in English ivy you come in and remove the ivy plant anything because the seeds? I've been waiting to be germinated waiting for space and light and nutrients to be able to do their thing. The other thing is actually planting so Christmas collector. The reason why Christians the collector so that she can bring the seeds back to the nursery and grow which is what I do grow the plants and then actually plant the plants out into the open spaces on this mountain. There's a endangered endemic Tiburon Lily that only grows here. That's the other thing. That's so cool about California's just like in the top twenty five biodiversity hotspots in the world which is amazing and then the bay area is even more biologically diverse than other parts of the state eight. A reflection of that is the existence of these species that don't live anywhere else. Like San Bruno Mountain has three different species of man's Anita that don't live anywhere else and then we see that here too one thing I'd like to point out two things Most of the grasses you're standing in our invasive European grasses there are annuals but these are perennial bunch grasses and they co evolved just like that Lily. In the Serpentine Serpentine soils. So when we get a little higher where there's less Leaf litter and stuff that creates this. Topsoil that these European grasses can adapt to you can adapt to the almost pure serpentine soil. So we see like mainly brunch passes. That's a good example of CO evolution with its surroundings. So Paul mentioned the bunch. You can see this. This kind of bunching thing happening this is one plant that came from one seed this this is a perennial plant. It can live up to a hundred years. This looks like elements glaucous which is Blue Wild Rye. And then here all this green stuff this is these these are annual invasive grasses And they live one year and they die after they set their seed in the springtime and then the hillsides sides dry up in the summer. They are no longer alive and they set they set one seed they grow basically one stock and they die in like three or four months so all of Lee's most of these came from Europe they came as feed for cattle or in the cattles hooves. And it's an ecosystem type conversion that happened really quickly in California where it went from hillsides covered in these long lived perennial grasses with like other perennial Forbes Forbes are non woody perennial plants perennial is a plant that lives multiple years so the grasslands were covered in these perennial grasses with flowering Forbes and then annual wildflowers flowers and the color that existed in California. He's rolling hills was was different than it is today. So you know like you drive down the one on one or whatever and you're like all really familiar with the Golden Alden Rolling Hillsides and dappled oak forests right well. Before the Spaniards came in the summertime. It was more of a like sort of gray green blue color. There would be dieback like this but but it wasn't like that gold dead look and also the wildflower displays where there's accounts from the early California's settlers. The talk about California like this garden and they talked about the like the rolling hillsides changing color through the year so like wildflowers white purple Blue Yellow Orange Pink Red That would be as their bloom. Time time comes and goes depending on the species. These are the colors that we would see throughout California With this long lived always at least kind of green plants. So that's like that's to get paint a picture of what it what it could be. These grasses live up to one hundred years they have deep root systems. Their root systems can can go up to ten feet into the earth. The annual invasive grass from Europe lives one year is. I'm trying to pull out once you you can see route. It's like an inch and a half two inches. Maybe a little longer. Because it's springtime in route down but it probably won't go further the mess so all plants sequester carbon right all plants photosynthesis they sequester carbon dioxide from the air. They use the carbon for their growth. Both down into the ground up into the air and they they release ox or up into the sky they release oxygen as a byproduct. Which is what we've read so plant? All plants voters synthesize. All plants use the carbon for their growth. This plant does this plant. It does but imagine a plant so the global carbon cycle right we there's four carbon sinks on the planet there is the Hydros fear which is major bodies of water. There's the lithosphere. which is the earth's mantle and crust? There is the pedestals which is the soil. And there's the atmosphere which is the air so there's those are all all the places that are carbon storage places because of human activity. The carbon has been released into the atmosphere and then what is in the atmosphere also the water sex it up so right now of two out of the four carbon sinks on the planet are totally maxed out like we have human civilization. If you call it that I'd I'd like I have problems with that word. But anyway if we go back. Twelve thousand years. When agriculture started in the Fertile Crescent there was two hundred and seventy five parts per million of carbon urban dioxide in the atmosphere? Now we have four hundred five parts per million one hundred thirteen as of January twenty. Okay four hundred and thirteen eighteen parts per million of carbon dioxide in the atmosphere. Which is why you know? We're having these extreme weather events warming you you know it right you use you know the dia reports. The soil L. is is depleted of carbon though the soil does not have carbon in it to the extent that it did before and that's because of the agricultural practice of tilling so they turn the soil oil over the soil that had carbon in it becomes oxidized it turns into carbon dioxide and it goes into the atmosphere so it actually tilling releases carbon into the atmosphere and then also obviously the burning fossil fuels takes the carbon out of the soil and releases it into the atmosphere plants. Put the carpet back into the soil. They put into their bodies and they also put it into the soil. Anything with Wong routes that goes down. You know tens of feet is going to put more carbon in the soil than something that has system. That's like two inches long so if we were Astore California grasslands to be native perennial grasslands. There's a tremendous amount of carbon that we can be sequestering. Some of the ecosystems in California with the highest carbon sequestration Asian and storage potential trees store carbon. Quite as well because they have so much mass on top so if a fire were to sweep through or if the trees or cut down then all of that carbon that went into building. They're beautiful canopy can also be released into the atmosphere whereas if a fire swept through here you know we've got about about two feet that's gonna go but ten feet potentially staying in the ground so there's tremendous potential to sequester carbon through habitat restoration through habitat restoration of native perennial grasses through restoring wetlands. Those systems have a higher carbon sequestration and storage rate than other systems. Okay so we know. All plants sequester carbon right so when we're planting the plants. We're planting the plants for the insects for the birds for the entire system. We're not just putting this Rosebush here and you know and then it's an isolated Rosebush. There's all these things that have interdependent co evolves relationships and it's that's those relationships that create the functioning of the cycle so if we're restoring habitat were helping to restore a carbon cycle locally. If we do that on a global scale we can help restore a carbon cycle globally and the other really good news about it is that it feels really good to do this. Habitat arrestation work and to be out connecting nature. I ever really cool thing about bunch. Grass Fed not only for carbon purposes but bunch grasses because their roots are so along They can actually pull water from deeper in the soil and bring it up to the surface for other plants to us. So in drought years Habitats that have a higher proportion of bunch. Grasses actually do much better not just the bunch grasses but also the other plants around it because they have access to more water during harder times tmz restored. Ecosystems like restored balanced functioning cycles are more resilient in the face of extreme weather so there's all of these benefits to restoring Habitat Abbott besides just carbon sequestration. And we'll talk more about that so we're going to stop and we're GONNA be talking about likened so were hiking on San Bruno Mountain which is fransciscan sandstone and quartz crystal outer part of Mountain. And maybe I could do a little geological talk and we get to the top but like those rocks and like these serpent tonight rocks. He's would be greenish bluish white streets if you saw someone. We came up the hill where it got broken. Did anybody notice the serpent tonight. The actual colors but because it's covered with Lichens and there were probably thirty different types of lichens growing on this rock right here with the exception of these mosses so these are mosses but all these different colors. The grays the blacks you've seen orange orange in some areas these these organisms. They have a symbiotic relationship. There's three organisms that A makeup the structure structure of these lichens it's fungus and fungus are like the structure and they take nutrients and minerals out of the air. Sulfur sulfur in particular. That's one of the primary food sources that it takes out of the air and then algae and the algae is like the what what creates the photosynthesis to support the structure of fungus and the algae. And now they're they found on a new organism that exists within the structure. It's a yeast and I'm not sure that type of yeast did it is but these are organisms organisms and and they're an indicator species that the air is not even moderately polluted because it was moderately polluted the air. These wouldn't survive. So they're they're an indicator species re example reading the landscape. Like we're reading. The air through the likened right here passing around in your hand north of has use now on it right old old man's beard I think is another name for it and and That also has medicinal properties. I think women seized Menstrual pad it has like a natural antibacterial it. How do you feel about doing silent hike until we get to this big grandmother Oak trees for that? Yeah well listen and look and go inside ourselves having been listening to people's squishy footsteps especially since yes. I'm recording the sound. I noticed less birth then when we were down below like when we first started the hike even when we got out of the car was like oh birds activity and then on our way up. Here is still guesses and Swaggie it. Might it'll be monitored more bird center you know. There's no trees just out just grasses. There's not like cover for the birds. Sir Yeah places for them to perch and in the springtime when the moth larvae are emerging in these oaks in particular this is where the primary have attached four Birdsville to get worms for their babies and GRUBBS. Oak Trees are the host plants for something like twenty or twenty five different species of moths and butterflies. See Plant One oak tree. And you're providing half for that many numbers of just in the lepidopterists the top terrace family which is a moth better family. Like not even counting all the other stuff that and then of course. The the caterpillars are the main food source for baby baby birds so baby. Birds need caterpillars. If you don't have the plant you don't have the butterfly the Caterpillar. You don't have the birds and then how do you think this triest. I hundreds of years old probably like I don't know who three hundred years and oaks remaining because like Christian said about the grasslands how the native grasses with their roots so deep Bring up water. Oak Tree spent half their life living in the other half dying and their root system can go out. Three hundred feet ate from the tree and in the summertime when it's really dry those root systems dia back but they create these tubes of of dead dieback which ages water resource and then the roots reemerged back into those in times like she was saying they bring water to other nearby surrounding trees and shrubs other people have said that if you have an oak tree in your backyard. You're not gonNA starve because the eight forms are like highly nutritious. Tristesse high protein food source so California Indians all over California. There's how many species of Oakland California does anybody know. I would say like twenty thirty or more species of Oakland California. All of them produce acorns all of his aprons or edible somewhere like more prized as food source than others. Like different species have different tastes But this past fall out in the fall this past fall Alana and me and Leandra Denise. WHO's over there? when acorn gathering and acorn processing did acorn in processing and Acorn leaching and to be able to eat the ACORNS. It's a long process but it's gluten free gluten free foods so like what if instead of importing Almonds that are like high water use. What if we just maintained and supported and stewarded and cared for our existing oak forests and harvested those acorns and use those to eat so part of part of the whole client suite of climate change? Solutions is going to involve like recently our agricultural system and I'm really excited about different like native plants. We could begin to incorporate into our diets in a way that would be responsible. Not In the way that we've done it where the plant them on. We like bulldoze make everything like a blank slate and then plant the thing and strict rose so that we can harvest more but if the goal is harmony and it's not speed and it's not efficiency and it's not profit but if it's like more goodness everyone then it doesn't no matter who takes longer because the trees dotted around to harvest the corns or anything else. We should say about the oak trees and was it burned his is arson or can't fire or Wildfires we now probably was the wildfire California evolves with the fire regime that has was much more frequent than what we have now and it's because native peoples used fires really prominent stewardship tool or care for the landscape tool it would open the under under story forest for example so they could hunt easier because of that happening over thousands of years that you go system grew to depend on fire so there are certain plants that it won't open their seed pod unless there's really high heat so those plants won't be able to germinate without a fire. Oak Trees have also have evolved with fire. The fire will cleanse the sort of the mosses in the excess kind of stuff that likes to grow on the bark That helps the health of the tree so so native peoples that depending on the ecosystem they would set fire every like two to twenty years. I'm so that's one reason why this campaign has called wildfires. Twelve flowers is because as you know wildfires or something that are becoming more and more frequent and more and more severe and more and more scary right and yet we need fire and fires part of the restoration toolbox and after fire. There's also fire following species so those same those same plastic can't open their seed pod unless fire happens. Those are called fire following speeches so after fires botanist go out. They get super excited. Because what are we going to see now so wildfire wild flowers come also there's many some invasive species that are adapted to fire like French broom is one but there's a lot that are not so the the fire can prioritize and and foster the native species over the invasive species cal. Fire does have grants that is like fuel reduction grants. So that's another thing. Is that fire. If you are burning regularly there won't be as much dead build up like like you. Can even you know. There's these dead bridges on the under story because they're not getting as much much light so that that's not the best example of fuel build up because it's hire A better exactly what fuel buildup would be like essentially the stationary fuel ladder fuels fuels fuel. That so this will burn and it'll send it'll it'll send the flames higher into the canopy and that's when when the older trees start to become threatened so I'm cal fire does have some funding for fuel reduction a lot of the field reduction that they do. Because people are so afraid of fires is just like slashing and cutting which is not horrible But it can be bad if it's not done with an ecologically trains mind. Yeah and the tribes are definitely involves in in in trying to both restore their own land and spread this knowledge. That's something that I should have said from the very beginning. They need to be involved like out of the gate and there's areas where fire departments and tribes are working together. But it's half is happening like isolated right. There's not like a overall California policy that is um funding that that's prioritizing that. Yeah let's keep going the serpent tonight which we refer to Serpentine Serpentine Grasslands. What we're on here is a metamorphosed? Morphing rock debts created under extreme pressure but low temperature. And it's got a lot of magnesium minute and of course naturalists hostess and Schyster which is blue and green chased and Chromium and nickel. So if you ever see Serpentine Shiny. That's the the metals that are in it One of the other my favorite formation stat read layered rock. That's radio LERIAN SHIRT AND RADIO LEERING IN CHURCH. There's two types there's Radio Larry That were singled. celled microscopic see creatures that had a silica body and it took a thousand years for one centimeter of those layers to be created. And so you think about the time that it took to create these. He's massive hillsides that we see of church as as well as in the Marin headlands and there's another one that's diatomaceous Mesa's shirt from diatoms which were singled cells algae's that were disclosed glasslike organisms. That were in the ocean. But what's really interesting about all these formations is. They came from down near the equator West of the Panama Canal. And they moved up here on the Farallon plate which is now underneath the Pacific Plate. So if everybody's walked over in the Santa Cruz mountain range all the way up through the Marin headlands. That's all on the Pacific Plate. That's all moving north. And that's over the fairlawn plate now and it's really interesting. As far as time in what's happened like San Bruno Mountain Mountain Desk Franciscan sandstone on the outside with quartz crystal and the inner part is Gray wacky and the inner part is younger within the outer part. And if when you scoop ice cream and an edit roles like that San Berno Mountain was actually turned upside down. So it's it's pretty amazing in how geological features have formed but This is really special. You know the the They travelled a long way to get here in California state rock And it's also some of you might have heard this but it's when it Because of its chemical composition Serpentine based soil has like you have to have specific. Plans have to have specific adaptations to be able to thrive in that soil so a lot of time. Serpentine Grasslands Ostlund more prestige than other grasslands from with other bedrock soils So this this mountain can be like fairly fairly like a pretty good example of what The grasslands looks like before depending on where you're at this is our last little meeting spot. I just want to kind of lay out the vision for wildfires wildflowers. One more time before we part ways it started in September twenty eighteen. I was house sitting in this fancy house in the in Pacific heights and they got the newspaper delivered to their door like super old school style and I was eating breakfast. Now's reading the San Francisco Chronicle and there is this article about The Global Climate Action Summit the Jerry Brown was holding at that time. I'm so he held that summit when trump pulled us out of the climate accord's And he made an announcement at that summit that California would be that he was passing an executive order to have California be carbon negative by the year. Two thousand forty six meaning that we would be sequestering. More carbon than we're emitting and the whole whole threats of that article was like we don't have the technology like we don't know how to do this. This isn't possible. Even framing and his technology was really bizarre to me. So I read that article and I read like maybe four or five other articles covering the same event that all had the same as it was like the Wall Street Journal. The New York Times like on small small online publications that all had the same same thrust of like. We don't know how to do this. We do bioenergy fuel crops or massive Ocean Algal blooms or direct air capture plants like these giant like concrete things that have these big fans that are like turning in carbon dioxide and sequestering it and putting it into like building blocks and nobody mentioned photosynthesis. Nobody mentioned plants S.. Nobody mentioned habitat restoration. Like pulling out like are you fucking guys and at that moment I was like. It's gotTa be restoration. I was excited to Z.. Like carbon negative even being talked about as a possibility and that we had you know a political will enough that it was going to be put forth as an executive order but the needs to turn into legislation so the executive orders set. And then legislators are tasker hopefully To go and like write laws that are like this is how it's going to happen and the main way that it needs to happen. Reducing emissions like we're doing with like technological advances and like retooling our energy infrastructure but also through carbon sequestration through habitat restoration and the thing with habitat restoration is that it provides all these other benefits. First of all it feels good studies show that Serotonin serotonin rises in our bodies when our hands are in the soil that we heal quicker and faster when we can see a tree outside her hospital window. Then when there's nothing. They are except for fluorescent lights. In our faces. Social Emotional physical development of children is enhanced with regular access to nature. So there's that then there's also Mitigating extreme weather like when we have wetlands protecting our cities those wetlands act as a sponge for storm surge. I'm they also sequester. Carbon it really high rates We talked a little bit about fire and grasslands like Perennial grasses that are alive in the summertime are going to burn slower than invasive missile annual grasslands that are just covered in thatch also the bunched nature of the grasses that the fire will sort of jumped from one grass to the other rather other than sweeping through just like you know dried up tender. There's like extreme weather mitigation carbon sequestration. Like just personal human wellbeing. They're securing our food supply by having more habitat for pollinators we've all heard about colony collapse disorder. Right there's the sixth grade extinction that's happening. How do we slow down the sixth grade extinction? We create habitat for the animals. So that they don't go extinct we do. Those things like corridors whereas talking about what the butterfly so that those butterflies don't go extinct so to me. It's a no brainer. And the goal of this project. Wildfire swallow flowers is to build grassroots momentum for these kinds of solutions to like create bridges between like the scientific community the grassroots climate change people. The policymakers and really make a groundswell for this kind of thing. And and like so. What I imagine is like you know we can send people to the moon? We can mobilize massive wars like we can create a weapon that could wipe out the planet so we have tremendous power. And and it's just it's a question of where do we want to put it. It's not a question of is it possible. It's a question of we have choice. And we can decide the we're going to put it in the direction of more love and more goodness us and like more life or in the direction of continued destruction you know and the both are happening at the same time right now. So it's not it's not either or at at this moment but I would like to push it more in the direction of the love and the goodness and the life and the feel good sir. tonen California's the fifth largest economy. We have this executive order put forth we have legislation coming like hundred percent renewable energy by twenty thirty right like we have this legislation coming. There is momentum there's also dire need. California has a lot of influence California's the fifth largest economy. We have silicon valley. We have Hollywood. We have probably the most progressive governor. I've ever seen in my lifetime. I've lived here my whole life If California could begin to legislate actual real solutions and if these actual real solutions can begin to take hold than other states and other nations are going to take notice. I I imagine all coming together and creating not abundance and creating that that possibility for something beautiful and connecting to nature and being mm fed by it being nourished by it and that that being the engine that like helps us go forward and work together and find the solutions and and not give up. You guys don't do that with me with as we have listeners. Worldwide Wii on is on conservation. And I know that these wildfires to wildflower hikes or walks or interpretive experiences that you're offering you know are based aced locally here in the San Francisco Bay area but what would you say to somebody who is inspired by what they're hearing today and potentially wants to who get involved in something like this habitat restoration or you know this kind of coalition building environmental coalition building in their own in communities. What advice do you have to offer them? Well Habitat needs to be restored everywhere and it is happening everywhere. I know China's very involved right now some big initiatives to restore habitat. There's like a billion tree planting a billion trees thing that the face salesforce sky just so it's happening everywhere. You're so wait you said the salesforce guy is planting a billion trees mark. BENEF- is at the salesforce guy. Yeah that yeah mark. Benny off his has put forth the proposal to fund the planting of a billion trees around the world which is great trees are fantastic. Patrice aren't the only thing. Everybody talks about trees because we think of the Amazon is being the lungs of birth but trees need under story. Trees need shrubs. They need vines. They need grasses. They made flowers they need so actually we have to. We have to restore Eka we have to restore the entire hire system. Not just not just plant trees not to diss the idea. I would say one of the first things that someone can do is learn where your local the open spaces are learn who is managing those spaces and offer assistance. And then also just begin to open your eyes and your ears. More when you're when you're walking around outside aside begin to notice. The plants begin to notice the sounds of the birds begin to notice signs of animals Begin to slow down a little bit and attuned into the natural world. That's around us because it is around us even when we're in a city And there's ways of inviting that world into the city more there's ways of caring for the world outside of the city whatever really ignites your passion and then also there's there's the realm of advocating for more funding for habitat restoration than that it become something that is a global priority and that can exist that That advocating can happen with groups that already exist or it can happen by going to those that are in power in positions of power. And telling them what we need. I'm personally very inspired by the work that you're doing and I. I enjoyed the experience that I had an wildfires wildflowers L. Flowers and so if you could just tell some listeners who might also feel this sense of inspiration how can get in touch with you and find out more about your organization and how they can help the. If they're local to get involved we can go to the website. It's wild fires to wildflowers dot. Org there's no numbers it's all written out. You can sign up on the email. Sign up list there. You can donate. There's a time to donate We have monthly meetings. Also you can come to the next hike and you can contact me through my website. There's a contact page fantastic. Thank you so much for taking the time to co I look forward to going out and experiencing nature and restoring habitats with you again. Thank you so much. Kristen Special thanks to Ildiko Ponti of wildfires to wildflowers and naturalist Paul Skull of San Bruno Mountain. Watch the music. You're listening to is darkness and light by Chris Collins of indie music box dot com. If you liked this episode please make a pledge on Patriots on dot com slash wildlands collective and follow is on conservation on facebook. And don't forget to head over to wildlands INC DOT ORG hyphen one. Ninety three three for the show notes. This episode was produced and edited by me. Kristen tell us. Thanks for listening.