Non-Native Vegetation Control: It’s Crucial

(Editor’s note: This letter to the editor was instigated by an exchange Randy Smith had in passing with a man on the river trail who took exception to – and disputed the need for the removal of non-native vegetation.) 

A recent unpleasant verbal encounter along the North Sacramento River Trail prompts this writing.  Public understanding of efforts to control non native vegetation needs improvement.

Over the last several years various volunteer organizations have endeavored in several locations to return public properties to the riparian savanna, native trees, shrubs and grass, which existed along the Sacramento River before Shasta Dam, before the smelter Smoke Wars, before the introduction of Asian Arundo, Himalayan blackberry, Spanish broom, Chinese tree of Heaven, European Oleander, eastern black locust and other invasive, exotic plant species.

This work is granted permission by the California Departments of Fish and Wildlife, Food and Agriculture, Pesticide Regulation, County of Shasta and City of Redding.  Those who believe fire danger abatement, access improvement, ecological health restoration, removal of poisonous plants and return of historical flora are harmful and improper activity; simply do not apprehend that our species has created a nightmare which needs attention and atonement.  Leaving Nature “alone” worked for millennia until our kind interfered with vital processes, imported noxious plants, upset important ancient balances and ignored eons of evolution.

Non native plants will not be defeated; sadly, they are here to stay.  However, they can be, should be, controlled.  An example on public land can be given so that residents and visitors gain appreciation for how things once looked and performed.

Returning wild species like the California gray fox, valley quail, red shouldered hawk, California tree frog and others are testimony to the recovering health and vigor of these public riparian properties.  They proclaim quiet volumes about what has occurred during the last fifteen years in Redding.  Native azalea, penstemon, California poppy, bunch grass, Santa Barbara sedge, Equisetum and dozens of other native plants are returning from hidden places where they retreated waiting help against powerful adversaries they did not evolve to fight.

People of Redding are rightfully proud, possessive and protective of wonderful surroundings which have been provided by farsighted investment and fortunate natural circumstances.  Change is difficult for some to countenance or embrace, even comprehend.  But there are many who support and labor to make possible a better tomorrow in keeping with advice from a long ago leader who speaks to us across the canyons of time, “We must handle the water, the wood, the grasses so that we will hand them on to our children and our children’s children in better and not worse shape than we got them.”  Theodore Roosevelt,  White House Conference May 1908

Randall R. Smith

Randall R. Smith
Randy Smith is a retired physician, morphed into a full-time professional volunteer. He is a former member of the Redding Planning Commission and Cal-Tip Advisory Board. He is an active member and the founder of the Allied Stream Team of Rotary Club of Redding. He lives in Redding with his wife, Judy.
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17 Responses

  1. Randall Smith Randall Smith says:

    Thanks Doni. Improved understanding is the way to a better tomorrow.

  2. Avatar Joanne says:

    Thank you Randy, we appreciate all that you do.

  3. Avatar Beverly Stafford says:

    Star thistle is the bane of our existence here in Eastern County. All attempts to eradicate invasive non-native plants are appreciated and necessary. I wonder about the genius whom Dr. Smith encountered and who took exception to these efforts. My rhetorical question is, is he a local or a newcomer? His IQ needs testing.

  4. Avatar AJ says:

    What Beverly said, AMEN!! Let’s hope he was touched by knowledge and went away enlightened . . . However, I’m not holding my breath.

  5. Avatar Chris Solberg says:

    This I firmly believe is all under the guise to remove homeless camps all along the river where they find necessary survival areas in Reddings 100 plus degree temps. I also believe your spraying of Round up is very detrimental to our local animal life including Eagles and Bee populations. These are homeless camp areas that have been used for years were homeless Children and Infants are trying to survive.

    • Avatar Semi-Retired says:

      The homeless scare me, I turn around and walk the other way. I do not visit places I would like to visit because of the homeless. I know… I know, some of them are harmless, however, the vast majority that I see appear to be mentally ill and or users of bad drugs. They seem to have no desire to do anything to bring them out of the condition they are in. Certainly, there is a lot of crime associated with the homeless. If I had my way, if I were king, I would fund programs to get them out of the camps, give them CCC type work and shelter, those who would not comply? I don’t know, institutionalization? Ronald Reagan did us no good when he shut down institutions for the mentally ill! The sane criminals I would keep incarcerated.

      • Avatar Semi-Retired says:

        As for the spraying: certainly herds of goats and manual labor would be the organic option, but not very cost effective. There is no doubt these exotic species have dominated and moved into niches previously occupied by natives, they are noxious and present a problem, as do the homeless.

  6. Avatar Cory weir says:

    Before you all jump on the spray wagon, try reading Invasion Biology: critique of a pseudoscience by David Theodopoulos. It changed my view of “invasive plants”

  7. Avatar Gracious Palmer says:

    Thank you, Doni. Thank you, Randy.

  8. Avatar Hollis Pickett says:

    This work is vital – thanks to everyone who understands and supports native species – both flora and fauna!

  9. Avatar Lori G. says:

    Thank you Randy! Very informative.

  10. Avatar conservative says:

    Redding and Shasta county should create more suitable homeless campsites. The banks of the Sacramento river should not be campsites and toilets. Campers need food and water. Dollar stores are important magnets for the homeless. I think the homeless population will continue to increase at the current rate. Local government should do a better job planning for the inevitable.

  11. Avatar Michelle says:

    I wonder from a kayak what Keswick Lake would look like on the trail edge without the Tree of heaven, oleander, and blackberry. The poor lake is so overgrown with it I wish a fire would burn to the lakes edge.

  12. Avatar name says:

    good idea – spray the whole area with Garlon and just be done with it. Way back in the day, fires would naturally take care of all the undergrowth. Now we have chemicals.

  13. Avatar Rich Marovich says:

    Thanks from a fellow Rotarian. Polio eradication soon, Arundo next.