9 May ’23

Eureka, California

Citizen Science in Action in California

Invasive European beachgrass, planted in the 1900s and whose aggressive growth starves native plants of the sand movement and the space they need to grow. (Image: P. Catapano/Polarquest)

Natural native plants growing in the dunes after removal of invasive plants (Image: P. Catapano/Polarquest)

On the road from Arizona2Alaska, the Polarquest team met with Friends of the Dunes to learn about the impact invasive species are having on the California coast. 

The USA is the land of non-profit and volunteer associations doing work for environmental education and protection. Such activities started here much earlier than in Europe. So it has been easy for Polarquest members currently travelling along the Pacific coast of the country to get in touch and exchange ideas and share projects.

On Saturday 6 May, Polarquest’s Paola Catapano and Mike Struik met the Friends of the Dunes at the Humboldt Coastal Nature Center along the Eureka (California) Dunes Protected area. They’ve done an amazing job conserving the diversity of this unique coastal environment in the last 20 years through free community-supported education and stewardship programmes.

Every day they welcome school kids and their parents, providing them with the tools, gloves and guidance needed to remove invasive plants which disrupt the balance of the dune ecosystem by crowding out native plants.

Paola Catapano at the Humboldt Cosstal Nature Centre on Manila Dunes, Eureka (California) where Friends of the Dunes do their citizen science activities. (Image: M. Struik/Polarquest)

Removing invasive plants allows native plants the room to grow. As native plants return, so do native insects, birds and mammals that depend on them for food and shelter. Within just months of removing invasive plants (such as European beach grass planted in the early 1900s, see photo) volunteers witness native plants re-sprouting on their own.

Well done to Friends of the Dunes for promoting the strongest restoration tool, human hands, which is also creating community connectivity with the environment! These are also among the cleanest beaches we be ever visited, much more plastic free than the remote ones along the coast is Northern Svalbard!

More Polarquest News

Book tour for 80th Parallel!

Book tour for 80th Parallel!

Polarquest lead Paola Catapano embarks on book tour for “Ottantesimo Parellelo” (80th Parallel) in Italy and Switzerland!