by Mary Rhyne
It was the rallying cry of "Beat the Bulldozers" that brought the Gualala Chapter members together on February 13,1966. Word had been quickly spread by Dorothy and Charley Young that a baseball diamond was to be created on Brushy Opening Road, and all who cared about native plants should appear with tools on February 13 to dig and rescue plants before they were "done in" by the bulldozers. About thirty-two volunteers turned out for this event which came to be known as "The Big Dig."
The first officers were Dorothy King Young, President; Fred Schuler, Vice President; Winifred Schuler, Secretary; and Charles Migliavacca, Treasurer. One of the remarkable bits of history for our Chapter was the presidency two years later of Fred Schuler, a high school senior and an eager naturalist who brought youthful inspiration to his office. When the Berkeley Chapter had its first plant sale in 1966, the Gualala Chapter donated plants and sent Dorothy Young as an emissary with a good supply of her book Redwood Empire Wildflower Jewels.
Our Chapter was proud to nominate Charley Young to be the first CNPS Fellow in 1973. Later in that year John Stout suggested that the Chapter honor Dorothy Young for her tireless efforts in championing the importance of native plants by changing the Chapter's name to Dorothy King Young Chapter. All members agreed, and on September 30,1973, the name was changed with the State Board's approval. In 1988 Dorothy was nominated and became a CNPS Fellow for her dedication and leadership in bringing native plants before the public eye.
The territory covered by our Chapter is unusually stretched out covering a narrow coastal strip from Jenner in Sonoma County to Cleone, ninety-eight miles north in Mendocino County. In our early days we had members from as far north as Humboldt County, but as a nucleus of members gathered in the Arcata-Eureka area, that group formed its own North Coast Chapter. The handicap of being stretched out is that long distances members must travel to attend meetings.
We are fortunate to have a number of coastal plant communities not only for our own study, but also attract members from other Chapters and botanists from around the world. These include coastal stand, coastal prairie, northern coastal scrub, closed-cone pine forest, and north coastal forest. Our region is probably best known for stands of coast redwood, rare pygmy forests, a fen, sphagnum bogs, and the Jughandle Ecological Staircase with its uplifted terraces and consequent distinctive vegetation.
Early in 1987 our Chapter launched a program to control the exotic and invasive jubata grass Cortaderia jubata, which had silently infiltrated much of our woodlands and highway right-of-ways. With the manpower aid of the Lions Service Club and the financial aid of the community, we were able to eradicate most of the large stands of this giant grass by selectively spraying it with Roundup. The area of concern is approximately fifty square miles. Follow-up consisted of spraying large clumps and digging smaller seedlings. The program has been in effect for three years and will require monitoring for several more years.
Our major coastal concern is the race for development or build out with threat of erasing entire plant communities and the wildlife which depends upon them. We feel The Sea Ranch in Sonoma County provides a good example of planning with thought given to preserving existing plant communities and open space. Their development plans forbid the introduction of exotic plants, protection is provided for wildlife, and common areas are set aside so that plant communities are left undisturbed. They provide a good illustration of man living harmoniously with the natural environment.