South San Francisco, CA August 11, 2019 by Becca Brewer, limitless.eco/
Becca Brewer, co-founder limitless.eco
PREFACE: Big thanks to Becca for allowing us to share her story on our website, giving worthy attention to the south slope of San Bruno Mountain, in South San Francisco. And to those dedicated to restoring and preserving our local open space, efforts led by South City residents Loretta Brooks and Chuck Heimstadt.
Listen to Becca as she reads her blog post CLICK HERE or read her incredible story below.
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Two days per month, South San Francisco (SSF) Weed Warriors takes to the south slope of San Bruno Mountain to do the important work of helping endangered butterflies to thrive by protecting the local habitat from non-native plants. Open to anyone 15 or older who can walk slowly up slopes, SSF Weed Warriors – a project of San Bruno Mountain Watch – is an incredibly satisfying way to learn more about biodiversity from local stewards, Chuck and Loretta.
Keep reading to learn more about why you should spend an absolutely delightful morning battling weeds on San Bruno Mountain.
Meet Chuck and Loretta, Leaders of South San Francisco Weed Warriors
“If everyone focused their love, care, and commitment on protecting and regenerating their local places, while respecting the local places of others, then a side effect would be a resolution of the climate crisis.” – Charles Eisenstein in Climate: A New Story
Chuck and Loretta are shining examples of the local stewards that Charles Eisenstein believes will be a large part of the solution to the climate crisis. It’s taken Loretta and Chuck almost 10 years to overturn damage partially done to the mountain by European military forces introducing non-native species to feed cattle in the 1800s. Together, and with volunteers, the absolutely charming couple has done a massive amount of work to make room for the native plants that are essential for the survival of endangered butterflies on the south slope of the petite 1319 ft (402m) mountain.
How Loretta and Chuck weeded their way to San Bruno Mountain and SSF Weed Warriors.
Chuck and Loretta’s journey to this important work started while jogging through Edgewood Nature Preserve in Redwood City. On their jog, the couple noticed that wildflower walks were offered every weekend in spring and decided to go to a few. On one wildflower walk, Loretta noticed a small trail that the walk leader identified as a weeding trail. Once the couple found out they could volunteer as weeders, their first small step toward becoming the leaders of SSF Weed Warriors happened when she and Chuck started volunteering regularly at Edgewood.
While weeding with Edgewood, Loretta noticed Bull Thistle – a sharp, stickery weed that was in her and Chuck’s own backyard in South San Francisco. She learned from weeding leaders how aggressively it can invade wildlands. She and Chuck immediately took action and started eliminating these weeds on Sign Hill – the small hill adjacent to their backyard. After a few years weeding with Edgewood and in Sign Hill Park, Chuck’s attention was pulled to the mountain in their front yard. He thought San Bruno Mountain may need some help, so the couple attended a weeding session with San Bruno Mountain Watch on the north slope. A south slope program didn’t yet exist.
While weeding on the north slope, the director of the weeding program was impressed by how much they knew about native plants and weed species. He spoke to the executive director of San Bruno Mountain Watch about Loretta and Chuck, and the executive director asked them to start a weeding program on the SSF side of San Bruno Mountain. In the Summer of 2010, South San Francisco Weed Warriors was born, opening the door for Chuck and Loretta to facilitate the extraordinary return of native plants to the mountain.
It’s an absolute dream to weed with Chuck and Loretta.
Like all well-oiled volunteer organizations, of which SSF Weed Warriors is definitely one, Chuck and Loretta have invested in everything a volunteer needs to spend a morning fighting against invasive weeds on the mountain. They provide gloves, a bucket (when needed), and this really dope Japanese hand-tool called a maddock – the tool you use for battle. Like so many who understand the need to invest in our Earth, they do their work for free out of love for the land, and using their own money for supplies.
As you walk to the worksite for the day, you come across tiny flags that they’ve set down to mark out sites with poison oak, sites that need more work, and sites with interesting plants or wildlife. After a few times volunteering you come to see that their work is so extensive that they’ve named certain regions on the mountain, have established weeding paths that spider everywhere off the main trail, and seem to have helped restore every square inch you pass.
Fighting weeds is the primary focus of a morning spent with SSF weed warriors – you’ll spend a good few hours scanning the ground to identify and eliminate threats while leaving native species intact. As a bonus to your service, Loretta and Chuck almost always switch into steward mode and teach you about life on the mountain. Sometimes on the way to the worksite, and sometimes on the way back, Chuck and Loretta will immerse you in the scientific names of plants, the life-cycles of butterflies, or the interesting way in which a certain moth begins life in coyote poop!
Although knowing you’ve helped to protect a local ecosystem makes a morning with SSF Weed Warriors worth the investment of time on its own, Loretta and Chuck’s intimate knowledge of the south slope’s environment is what makes the morning special. Anyone looking to find connection to nature and anyone who wants to learn more about the beautiful interplay of life should spend a morning with Chuck and Loretta. You’ll learn a lot while doing a lot of good.
If you’re looking to add meaning to the last weekend of every month – or to your life – Chuck and Loretta need your help.
If you live near SSF and want to do something meaningful with the last Friday or Saturday morning of your month, strap on some pants you can get dirty, throw on a few layers (it can get windy!), and head to the Mountain. (Definitely RSVP first so Chuck and Loretta know you’re coming.) Once you’re done with the day, put an appointment in your calendar and make it a priority to keep attending. Chuck, Loretta, and our earth need dedicated volunteers who can make it out more than just once.
On a grander note, Team Limitless is hoping that maybe, if one of you out there continues to attend SSF Weed Warriors regularly, you’ll come to find that you love native plants, the beautiful local grasslands, and being outdoors. Maybe you’ll love it enough to start learning more and more from Chuck and Loretta. And maybe, just maybe, you’ll be able to take over for them. As Chuck and Loretta turn the corner into their 70’s, they’re looking for a person or for people who can keep their work going when they no longer can.
We’re hoping that they find someone. Why not you?
Interested in Volunteering?
Let Loretta and Chuck know you’re coming! Email them at firstname.lastname@example.org, at least two days before the last Friday of the Month.
SSF Weed Warriors is a program of San Bruno Mountain Watch – come join them at their amazing outdoor Annual All You Can Eat Pancake Breakfast and Plant Sale Sept 8, 2019 More info HERE. And stay tuned for the incredible events planned for 2020 as SBMW celebrates FIFTY years of advocacy to Save San Bruno Mountain!
Learn more about Becca Brewer and Leandre, and their incredible epic world travels, as they share Eco-responsible ideas with other like minded people.