October 7, 2008

Volunteers Sought to Help Restore Bonanza Springs

News Release

California Desert District

Volunteers willing to roll up their sleeves for a day are needed to help restore Bonanza Springs. As part of the 15th annual National Public Lands Day, Saturday, Nov. 8, 2008, volunteers will help eradicate tamarisk and arundo, which have endangered the spring’s vitality, as well as install a pedestrian pass-through gate, maintain and reclaim trails, and install natural stones from the wash as stepping stones.

Lunch will be provided to the first 50 registered volunteers. All volunteers will receive a free NPLD t-shirt and a pass good for one free entry, any day during the next year, at public land sites managed by the National Park Service, the U.S. Forest Service, the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, the BLM, or the US Army Corp of Engineers.

"Last year we reached a monumental participation of 110,000 volunteers on National Public Lands Day, and we are expecting to increase this by an additional 10,000 this year," said Robb Hampton, director of National Public Lands Day. This year, National Public Lands Day commemorates the 75th anniversary of the Civilian Conservation Corps and is sponsored for the ninth consecutive year by Toyota Motor Sales, USA.

Bonanza Springs is a small oasis 45 miles west of Needles, just north of Route 66 between Essex and Chambless, Calif. This small spring in the desert makes surrounding uplands inhabitable by wildlife for up to several miles.

Nearly a decade ago, the Bureau of Land Management (BLM) began clearing Bonanza Springs of noxious weeds, which were choking the life out of the springs. Tamarisk, often called salt cedar, is an evergreen shrub or tree growing to 50 feet in height and forming dense thickets. It can spread both by submerged stems and by seeds. Each flower can produce thousands of tiny seeds that are contained in a small capsule, usually adorned with a tuft of hair that aids in wind dispersal. Seeds can also be dispersed by water. Tamarisk species are fire-adapted and have long tap roots that allow them to intercept deep water tables and exploit natural water resources. They are able to limit competition from other plants by taking up salt from deep ground water, accumulating it in their foliage and depositing it in the surface soil. The salt build ups can be detrimental to other plants.

Arundo is a tall, perennial reed, growing in fresh and moderately saline water. It can grow to 30 feet in ideal conditions. This vegetative growth appears to be well adapted to floods, breaking up into individual clumps, spreading the pieces, then sprouting and colonizing further downstream. In 2007, BLM employees, with the help of volunteers, placed thick, black tarpaulins over the arundo to prevent light from reaching the plant, reducing its ability to photosynthesize. The lack of light eventually depletes the plants energy reserves, causing it to die back. Since the tarps have been in place for more than a year, they will be picked up and moved to other spots within the Bonanza Springs area.

To find out more about the project, including what to bring, directions, or to register as a volunteer, please contact Elaine Downing at edowning@ca.blm.gov or (760) 326-7003, or visit the website, Needles Field Office - Volunteer Program.