This week Gold Crew spent a second week in San Antonio with the National Parks Service, helping complete a myriad of projects for the San Antonio Missions National Historic Park.
After arriving in San Antonio Monday morning, we set to work clearing overgrown acequias and picking up trash around the Mission Espada. (Acequias are ditches built by the mission founders to bring water to their crops. It’s pronounced ah-sek-ee-ahs).
Tuesday morning we got to work with archaeologists! The San Antonio Missions have managed to preserve several kilns the Spanish monks used to make lime, which was then used to build the missions. These kilns are approximately 300 years old, and every year the site archaeologist leads a team to carefully clear any vegetation which might encroach on or erode these features. Our team removed armfuls of ragweed and other brush under their supervision, making sure not to step on the kiln walls.
That afternoon we headed to Rancho de las Cabras, a property outside Floresville where we started building a trail two weeks ago, to restore some prairie.
Wednesday our field coordinator, Sarah, came out to Rancho de las Cabras to help us finish the work on our trail: putting in swales, reworking water bars, evening out some of the steeper sections of trail, and widening sections that were just a little too narrow. It was a hot day, and we had to take frequent water breaks, but with Sarah’s help, we were able to make sure the trail would be ready for an event the NPS is having in early June. That night the crew celebrated the completed trail with some cold Gatorade, s’mores, and a campfire after dinner!
Thursday we returned to Rancho de las Cabras and split into teams to clear invasive species from an area our sponsor is restoring to native prairie. My group grabbed our backpack sprayers and attacked a long stretch of guinea grass and Johnson grass, two invasive non-natives that spread quickly. Another group cleared and herbicided mesquite trees and other brush that, while being native species, don’t belong in a prairie.
Friday we packed our things and headed to Mission San Juan to help clear invasive species out of their pollinator garden. We targeted ragweed (a native “nuisance” species), Queen Anne’s lace (a non-native invasive), and bastard cabbage (another non-native invasive). At lunch time, we headed home to Houston to de-rig and do our weekly chores, finishing off a successful week of getting things done!
Noel Lampazzi – Coastal Crew Member (Gold Crew)