A new foundation for native plants

Publisher: San Mateo County Times
Reporter: Christine Morente

A new foundation for native plants
By Christine Morente
San Mateo County Times
Posted: 04/26/2009 05:58:59 PM PDT
Updated: 04/27/2009 06:56:43 AM PDT

BRISBANE - On private land demarcated by a metal fence lined with robust wildflowers, Paul Bouscal and Doug Allshouse removed weeds inside a concrete foundation that will become a native plant nursery.

In two months, the Mission Blue Nursery will be the backbone of the stewardship program for habitat restoration on San Bruno Mountain.

"It's biodiversity at our doorstep," said Mike Pacelli, a liaison between Brisbane and Universal Paragon Corp.

The Baylands' developer has loaned the land to Friends of San Bruno Mountain and the San Bruno Mountain Conservancy, which are both in charge of the nursery.

"It's pretty amazing that in a metropolitan urban area we have this natural feature. People are so committed to its preservation," Pacelli said. "I doubt people realize how much goes into this."

"Most people think it's a huge chunk of dirt," Allshouse, of Friends of San Bruno Mountain, added

So far, the plan is to have volunteers help cultivate about 200 diverse native species, including perennial wildflowers, native grasses, various scrubs, trees and creekside vegetation.

Joe Cannon, of the conservancy, and volunteers already have a bank of seeds ready for this year's propagation.

The San Francisco resident helped start one of the five native plant nurseries at the Golden Gate National Recreation Area in the Presidio. It opened in 1995 and puts out about 100,000 plants a year, Cannon said Thursday.

"That's our model," he said. "That's where we hope to be in 10 years."

Inside the Brisbane's nursery, seedlings would be germinated in the enclosed green house.

When ready, they will be transferred to the shade house to get the seedlings growing and ready for full sun and natural conditions, Cannon said.

San Bruno Mountain Watch Conservancy Executive Director Ken McIntire said those involved in the project wished the plant nursery opened three years ago when South San Francisco closed the former Mission Blue Nursery in 2005.

"We need to support the grassland that supports the (endangered) Mission Blue, Callippe Silverspot and San Bruno Elfin butterflies," he said. "A green house becomes central."

Councilman Michael Barnes helped bring the nursery to its current site near the Brisbane Fire Station off Bayshore Boulevard.

He said he wanted the city's environmentalists to work with Universal Paragon.

Barnes was one of the volunteers that dug out foundation.

"I knew there was awareness that we need native plants for San Bruno Mountain, and establishing habitat on the Baylands," he said Friday. "I wanted to put the developers with the environmentalists to see each other as people. Everybody was open to the idea from the beginning."