Diana Tataru, UC Santa Cruz

Diana tends native plants at the park nursery grown to supply riparian restoration projects. Image credit: Lobsang Wangdu

I’m working with the range management office here at the park. We work with the ranches. A lot of that is restoration work—making sure that the cattle are in areas where they should be, fencing off riparian areas, and planting riparian native plants.

Heavy cattle use can really enhance invasive plant abundance and then lower native plant diversity, especially in these riparian areas where there’s water flow. The riparian plants help prevent erosion and also keep the water quality a little better.

We want plants that come from seeds in this watershed. They’re hardy here, and then we don’t transfer disease or root rot from areas outside of the park. We go out and collect the seeds, come back, clean them, and start them in the nursery. As they grow we transplant them to bigger pots until we they’re ready to be planted in the fall.

Among Diana’s core responsibilities was identifying native plants such as this hazelnut and harvesting their seeds to propagate in the nursery for replanting. Image credit: Lobsang Wangdu

I feel a lot of attention from my supervisors to learn the things that I set as goals, like GIS and learning the plants in the area. I feel very encouraged to pursue those tasks.

Pretty much every day I learn something new regardless of what we’re working with that day.

It’s a lot easier to learn here because things I learn are applied immediately. I get to learn what a plant is and then repeatedly survey for it. Or learn how to do a GIS map and then make my own for a ranch.

We interns have a beautiful beach house on Tomales Bay with windows overlooking the bay and kayaks. There’s eight of us right now and we all do different things. It’s cool to hear about archeology and fisheries and also share things that we have in common.

Diana Tataru
Sampling the water along park streams enables scientists to identify areas needing more cattle fencing and restoration. Image courtesy Diana Tataru

Working with the National ParkService has showed me how they function. Now I know what it looks like to have a job for them. I would be interested in working with them further. And it’s definitely solidified my passion for taking care of native plants.

The park is very beautiful, there are many things to do here. I’m just very grateful to have this experience and to be able to learn in this way and live out here. It’s very unique.

The NRS’s California Ecology and Conservation course was really important to me for getting direction in my life. I’d always thought about research and what it would be like, but hadn’t had a lot of experience doing it myself. It showed me that in fact I do enjoy field research, and it encouraged me to get involved in labs on campus, to do a thesis, and then hopefully continue with my schooling.

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