S E C T I O N
May 25, 2011 ■ Stories about people and events in A
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the community. 24 |C
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Town honors its wildlife corridors and the residents who maintain them
Trillium is a three-leafed low-growing lily native to Woodside and a favorite of Doug Ballinger, whose home on Winding Way was one of 29 households awarded the status of Backyard Habitat — a wildlife corridor meant to be welcoming to native plants and wild animals. By Dave Boyce Almanac Staff Writer
eep the woods in Woodside.” A prosaic mission statement, a poetic mission. A group of residents is working to improve and create wildlife corridors on behalf of those who use them but cannot speak for themselves: the town’s native plants and wild animals. The vehicle for this effort is the Backyard Habitat program. This 2010 initiative by the town of Woodside’s Open Space Committee celebrated its first awards ceremony on April 13 with the designation of wildlife corridors at 29 households. Thirty-two applied, committee Chair Virginia Dare said. Each winner received a letter of congratulations and a 3-foot-long, 4-inch-wide plaque of sturdy but rusty steel, engraved with the program’s name and topped by a silhouette of a California Quail, also rusty. When tacked to a fence post, it signals to passersby that they’re passing a place that lets nature be — with a little help from its friends. Wildlife corridors do need friends. Yes, they are undeveloped and natural, but with aggressive invasive species living within and around them, the corridors require nurturing to return to a native condition and stay there. The necessary ingredient: conscientious humans. On the afternoon of the awards ceremony, the Open Space Committee conducted an invitation-only tour of three households recognized for their wildlife corridors. The Almanac visited two of them.
The Winding Way property of Doug and Leslie Ballinger includes a sun-drenched deep grass meadow bordered by large deciduous trees and intersected by a slow and meandering stream. The lush native grasses of the meadow are a result of a reseeding in 2010, Ms. Ballinger said. The non-native irises now populating the stream will be replaced with native irises in the coming year, she said. “It’s very important (that streams) are in an open and natural condition,” Ms. Dare of the Open Space Committee said. “We put a premium on that.” When the couple arrives home after dark, Ms. Ballinger said, and their headlights swing over the meadow, sets of brown ears pivot in their direction — deer lying in the long grass. Within sight of the meadow is a grove of trees through which Mr. Ballinger escorted this reporter and the Almanac photographer. Here and there were trillium, an unassuming native lily that sits low to the ground and blossoms with a maroon flower in the center of three broad leaves. “They punch out of the ground by January or February and they’re usually gone by now. I’m trying to encourage this one,” Mr. Ballinger said. “I don’t think a lot of people know what it is or care, but to me it’s a native California plant.” Mr. Ballinger is self-schooled. Queried as to how he can tell a native plant from a non-native one, he replied: “If you look See WILD IN WOODSIDE, page 23
Jeanne Sedgwick greeted visitors on April 13 to her 17-acre property on Old La Honda Road, where she and her husband Walter encourage wildlife and native plants in a redwood forest, also a temporary home for a highly invasive grass known as slender false brome.
On the cover Chester, a Labrador retriever who lives with Leslie and Doug Ballinger, visited the Ballinger’s meadow recently — now an official wildlife corridor and used frequently by deer. “He’s pretty comfortable with the deer,” Ms. Ballinger said. “He couldn’t care less. Sometimes he gives them a half hearted bark.”
Almanac photos by Michelle Le May 25, 2011 N The Almanac N 21
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H ELLER I MMIGRATION L AW G ROUP
C O M M U N I T Y WILD IN WOODSIDE continued from page 21
at it long enough, you can figure out if itâ€™s native.â€? A close study of nature came to him over time as he was fly fishing, he said. â€œWhen you fish, you look at everything more closely.â€? And why is that? â€œBecause you have the time to do it,â€? he said. He said he spends three to four hours on Saturdays pulling nonnative plants. â€œYouâ€™ve got to stay after the (invasive) Scotch broom,â€? he said. â€œIt takes work to get rid of these weeds. The best defense is to get the natives pretty well established.â€? Mr. Ballinger reached down and yanked out an alien forget-me-not by the roots and held it up. It looked pleasant enough, for a flower. â€œThe native is a lot better,â€? he said. The couple spent all of March and early April pulling thistles, Ms. Ballinger said. The town cuts roadside thistles, but after they flower, she said. â€œTo get everyone out there pulling thistles,â€? Ms. Ballinger said, â€œthatâ€™s my plan in my next life.â€? Asked about the thistle cutting, Town Manager Susan George said that professionals advise mowing them when 2 percent to 5 percent have begun to flower, usually around the second week of June, to be followed by another mowing six weeks later. â€œWe attempt to follow this protocol for heavily impacted areas, but of course there are probably stretches where we miss the window(s),â€? Ms. George said. â€œWe have 45 miles of roads with rights-of-way on either side and over 30 acres of public lands where star thistle is a potential problem and just a threeperson crew with many other duties. We do the best we can.â€? Green, and threatening
Another invasive botanical in N C A L E N DA R Go to AlmanacNews.com/calendar for more calendar listings
Special Events Menlo Polo Club holds U.S. Polo Association-sanctioned Ladies Tournament. Limited bleacher seating; spectators encouraged to bring chairs. May 28, 10:30 a.m.-3 p.m. $10. Menlo Circus Club, 190 Park Lane, Atherton. Call 408-718-7855. menlopoloclub.com â€˜Groovinâ€™ in the Groveâ€™ From 1-4:30 p.m., Stanford Band and others perform. From 6:30-9 p.m., American roots and blues band Jake Jacobs and rock band High â€˜n Tight, with vintage light show. Tickets at door. Proceeds go for band classes in local middle schools. May 28, $5-$10 day/$20 evening. Woodside High School Performing Arts Center, 199 Churchill Ave., Woodside. www.rcef.org/groovin â€˜World in Solidarityâ€™ Documentary film about Polish Solidarity movement with discussion following on Egyptian democracy movement. May 25, 7-9 p.m. $5-$10. M-A Performing Arts Center, 555 Middlefield Road, Atherton. 325-4663. Sunset Magazine Celebration Weekend with cooking demos, home and garden ideas.. June 4 and 5, 10 a.m.-5 p.m. $16; $12 seniors; kids under 12, free. Sunset Headquarters, 80 Willow Road, Menlo Park. sunset. com/cw Opera at Ladera: â€˜Fiori di Maggioâ€™ The artists of the Franzen Opera Studio perform opera arias and songs from musical theater. May 29, 4-6:30 p.m. $10. Ladera Community
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Woodside, though not as widespread as the thistle, is slender false brome. In the only known infestation in California, these vigorous green sprays of sword-like grass are concentrated between La Honda and Old La Honda roads and the Thornwood Open Space Preserve, said Ellen Gartside of the Midpeninsula Regional Open Space District. The infested area includes the property of Jeanne and Walter Sedgwick, another Backyard Habitat household. The Sedgwickâ€™s wildlife corridor is a redwood forest that, to the uneducated eye, appears untroubled by invasive species. But there is trouble, down by the stream. Clumps of false brome sit on the bank, looking as if they belong there. â€œIf I left it to its own devices, it would crowd out all the native under-story,â€? Ms. Sedgwick said. The Sedgwicks do have places on their 17 acres where non-natives are welcome: the formal yard, as is true at the Ballingers. Both lawns are fenced to protect ornamental plants like roses from hungry deer. But fencing of the deer-resistant kind is the exception. â€œWe really want to keep a lot of the open space open,â€? Ms. Sedgwick said. â€œI think itâ€™s great not to fence and gate.â€? While both the Sedgwicks and the Ballingers have properties larger than an acre, that is not a requirement for a Backyard Habitat award, Ms. Dare said. â€œWe have properties that are postage stamp sized,â€? she said. Framed by the Sedgwickâ€™s deep forest and the unimproved road that leads up into it, Ms. Gartside of the open-space district stood at a card table with brochures and a sample of slender false brome. â€œBrome is a highly invasive grass,â€? she said. â€œItâ€™s kind of a big deal.â€? Church, 3300 Alpine Road, Portola Valley. carlfranzen.com Nativity Carnival Carnival rides, game booths, food court, beverages, silent auction, benefiting Nativity School. June 10-12, 5-11 p.m. Free. 210 Oak Grove Ave., Menlo Park.
On Stage Silicon Valley Symphony 14-year-old violinist Stephen Waarts performs Violin Concerto in E Minor by Mendelssohn with Silicon Valley Symphony. June 3, 7:30-9:30 p.m. $15-$20; free for children 12 and under. Holy Trinity Episcopal Church, 330 Ravenswood Ave., Menlo Park. Call 415-287-6002. TheatreWorks presents new musical â€œ[title of show]â€? written by two undiscovered writers about two undiscovered writers writing a new musical. June 1-26. $24 (for students)/$42. Mountain View Center for Performing Arts, 500 Castro St., Mountain View. Peninsula Youth Theatre holds auditions for summer production of â€œBye Bye Birdieâ€? at Mountain View Center for Performing Arts. May 28 and 29, 2 p.m. $315. Peninsula Youth Theatre, 2500 Old Middlefield Way, Mountain View. Call 903-6000. pytnet.org Beginning Improv Workshop for nonactors uses theatrical improv techniques in a small-group atmosphere. Tuesdays, May 31-July 12, 7-9 p.m. $245 for 7 sessions. Dragon Theatre, 535 Alma St., Palo Alto. Call 493-2006.
Talks/Authors (All Keperâ€™s events: Members admitted free. General admission requires purchase of event book or $10 gift card.)
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How it came to Woodside is a mystery. Perhaps with hay from Oregon, where it is reportedly rampant, but no one knows for sure, she said. The open-space district has had an eradication program going since 2009 to reimburse property owners at a rate of $350 an acre cleared. â€œWeâ€™re definitely seeing a decrease in the (brome) population,â€? Ms. Gartside said. The district will survey a property at no cost and treat the brome with a herbicide once or twice, followed by a visit later to verify that itâ€™s worked, she said. Not alone
The Backyard Habitat program is â€œthe kind of thing that really (illustrates) whatâ€™s so special about this town and this community,â€? Mayor Ron Romines told an audience of about 20 at a lemonade-andbrownies get-together at Town Hall after the tour. â€œItâ€™s really fantastic that so many people decided to apply for this award.â€? Connecting open spaces is consistent with the townâ€™s values, Mr. Romines said. â€œItâ€™s this kind of program that really encourages people to think about those values and embrace those values.â€? â€œItâ€™s about building community around this idea,â€? added Ms. Dare. Residents engaged in this program may feel as if theyâ€™re swimming upstream alone, she said. â€œYouâ€™re not alone,â€? she said. â€œThereâ€™s a whole group of other people out there, people who feel the same way.â€?
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TOWN OF WOODSIDE 2955 WOODSIDE ROAD WOODSIDE, CA 94062 PLANNING COMMISSION June 1, 2011, 7:30 PM PUBLIC HEARING 2.
Mark Sweyer 2989 Woodside Road
CUSE#2011-0004 Planner: Deborah Dory
Review and approval/denial of proposed Conditional Use Permit for a cafĂŠ offering coffee, beer, wine, and food from 6:00 a.m. to 11:00 p.m., 7 days a week in a 1,278.6 square foot building located in the Community Commercial district. The cafĂŠ is proposed to have 25 seats. The space would also be used for cooking classes and private banquets on select days when not open as a cafĂŠ, with a maximum of 25 patrons. All application materials are available for public review at the Woodside Planning and Building Counter, Woodside Town Hall, weekdays from 8:00 â€“ 10:00 AM and 1:00 â€“ 3:00 PM, or by appointment. For more information, contact the Woodside Planning and Building Department at (650) 8516790.