Parkway Partners is Back!

 

We are bringing back our Parkway Partners program. This is a tool for local businesses along or near the American River Parkway to show their community that they support the efforts made to conserve and protect our Sacramento treasure.

There are three levels of financial investments in which a businesses can chose to participate, with each level offering multiple benefits, including features on our website, ARPF promotional videos, social media shares and features in our monthly newsletter sent to over 16,000 subscribers.

We’re looking to pair with new partners for 2022. For more information about the program and to discuss how your business fits with the Parkway, contact April Potter at (916) 486-2773 or apotter@arpf.org.

An investment in the Parkway is a valuable investment in our community.

Changes to Sacramento County’s Annual Park Passes

At the January 25 meeting, the Sacramento County Board of Supervisors approved changes to the Regional Parks Department Fee Schedule, which included an increase in park pass fees. Starting March 1, prices for annual passes will increase to:

Vehicle — $60.00
For standard motor vehicles.

Motorized Vessel/RV — $120.00
For RVs and motorized watercraft 22 feet and larger and other oversized vehicles or trailers. May also be used for the vehicle alone.

*Reminder that the County of Sacramento discontinued the passes for horse trailers and non-motorized watercraft this year.

Another change to the park passes is the addition of a Senior Discount, which will be $30. An ID will need to be shown at time of purchase.

The discounted Low Income Pass and free passes for Distinguished veterans will continue. We will provide more information on our website and social media once it becomes available.

Demand Letter: Progress Being Made

In January, the American River Parkway Foundation (ARPF) submitted a letter to the County of Sacramento and City of Sacramento demanding they take action to alleviate the amount of illegal camping on the Parkway and provide funding for restoration efforts. Park rangers estimate 2,000 people are spending the night/living along the 23-mile stretch of the Parkway. This is having an impact on the wildlife, the environment, critical infrastructure and visitors by diminishing water quality, increasing fire danger and introducing contaminants.

Read the full demand letter here

For years, local leaders have developed plans to provide resources and housing for the unhoused throughout the County. With record amounts of funding available, it’s now time for the County and City to work together to implement solutions and get as many of these individuals as possible into housing where they can receive the services they need.

Since the submission of the letter, ARPF has been in contact with two Sacramento County Supervisors and four Sacramento City Councilmember as well as a number of organizations and individuals focused on helping the unhoused. Our outreach is continuing with the goal to connect with more of our local leaders and advocates.

Media also had an interest in our story. We provided comments to The Sacramento Bee and conducted interviews with CBS 13, ABC10, KFBK, Capital Public Radio and The Carmichael Times explaining why we submitted this letter and what we are hoping to see from our local leaders. You can find links in our social media.

Please stay tuned for updates as our efforts continue.

Great American River Clean-Up 2021

On Saturday, September 18, 2021, more than 800 local residents removed 23,000 pounds of trash along the river in the span of just three hours for the annual Great American River Clean-Up (GARCU) in conjunction with the California Coastal Commission’s annual statewide clean up event. Volunteers of all ages gathered to collect trash and debris from Discovery Park to the Nimbus Fish Hatchery. Not only is trash unsightly for American River Parkway visitors, it pollutes our waterways, disturbs natural habitats and harms wildlife.

The total weight of garbage collected was the equivalent of about a school bus! Amidst this massive haul were some unusual items, including a prom dress, a yarn voodoo doll and a side chair with matching ottoman.

The 2021 GARCU event was held from 9:00 am to 12:00 pm at 17 different locations along the 23-mile long Parkway. Participating groups included:

Sacramento Valley Returned Peace Corps Volunteers

Employees of Hearst Broadcasting

Buddhist Tzu Chi Foundation

Members Church of God International

Grounded.

CGI Consulting

Metro Edge

Sacramento Association of Realtors

Student Action Club at Del Oro

Sac State Student Environmental Organization

Sac State Community Engagement Center

Girl Scout Troop 3997

Students of Jesuit High School

Gold River Community Association

GARCU is our largest annual clean-up event. For nearly 40 years, we have invited the community to take part in this statewide movement that mobilizes tens of thousands of volunteers throughout California to clean up trash from local beaches, lakes and waterways.

In past years, up to 2,100 local volunteers have come out to help remove debris from multiple areas along the river, highlighting why the Parkway is the greatest civic amenity in this region.

Our financial sponsors are an important part of APRF volunteer efforts, providing funds for supplies, such as trash bags, nitrile gloves, hand sanitizer, first aid kits, water and snacks. For more information about volunteering for or sponsoring a Parkway clean up event, please contact us at (916) 486-2773 or email volunteer@arpf.org.

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Bikes. Beer. BBQ.

What better way to have fun and support Sacramento’s uniquely remarkable urban park?

On Saturday, September 25, 2021 ride your bicycle along the beautiful American River Parkway, then party with us at William B. Pond Park with tasty barbecue, refreshing beer, and live music. Your registration fee includes support for your ride with rest stops along three route options, festival entry, lunch, beverages, and one drawing ticket for a chance to win awesome prizes!

Additional prize drawing tickets will be available for purchase during the event. Cash only!

Featuring live music from Rod Stinson Band and catering by Rossi Catering.

 

The Route

Want to bring the kids along? Or, maybe you’d like to skip the ride and just join us for the food and fun? We have options for you!

We offer multiple options for cyclists of any ability. Choose from three suggested routes, ranging from 5 miles to 26 miles, or challenge yourself by riding the entire paved Jedediah Smith Memorial bike trail. All three event routes start and finish at the William B. Pond recreational area and are supported with rest stops along the way.

Cruiser Route — 5 miles
Depart at 9:00 am. Ride upstream and turn around at Hagan Park.

Fixie Route — 12 miles
Depart at 8:00 am. Ride downstream and turn around at Guy West Bridge.

Roadie Route — 26+ miles
Depart at 7:00 am. Ride downstream and turn around at Discovery Park. Optional add-on: Ride upstream and turn around at Nimbus Fish Hatchery.

Rest Stop Hours:

Discovery Park
7:30 am to 10:30 am

Guy West Bridge
8:00 am to 11:30 am

Upper Sunrise
8:30 am to 12:00 pm

Team Challenge

Are you a member of a cycling team or club? Include your team name with your registration to compete for our annual Ride the Parkway team prize for most riders!

Be sure all teammates enter the same team name to be included in the count

 

Party Details

Post-ride festivities begin at 11:00 am at William B. Pond Park recreational area.

A delicious barbecue lunch will be provided by Rossi Catering (vegetarian options will be available), along with beer sponsored by local breweries, while you enjoy live music by the Rod Simpson Band.

Plus, your drawing ticket will give you a chance to win cool prizes from local restaurants, breweries, cycle shops, and more. Additional tickets available for purchase during the event. Cash only!

Bring your lawn chair or picnic blanket!

 

Our NEW Ride the Parkway bike jerseys are now available to order!

Orders from our jersey vendor Jakroo typically take about two weeks from online purchase to product delivery, so be sure to place your order in advance of the Ride the Parkway event.

We recommend placing your order by September 1st to make sure you have your jersey in time for the Ride the Parkway event.

$79 each

ARPF arranged a discounted “team” price of $79 per jersey. (Regular retail price for the Jakroo FONDO jersey style is $99.)

JERSEY DETAILS:

• Comfortable fit for every rider
• Full length hidden YKK zipper
• 3 rear cargo pockets
• Additional zippered pocket for valuables
• Elastic waistband with silicon gripper
• Reflective piping for visibility
• Men’s & Women’s sizing (XXS-5XL)
• Youth version also available (8-14)

 

A big thank you to our Ride the Parkway event sponsors:

The American River Parkway Foundation e-newsletter is a monthly publication.

Click here to sign up!

volunteers pulling and bagging stinkwort

Stopping the Stinkwort Invasion

Despite its dainty foliage, stinkwort (Dittrichia graveolens) spells big trouble on the American River Parkway.

Native to southern Europe, stinkwort was first observed in the Sacramento region in 2002, thought to have been introduced by seeds in landfill soil. This spunky plant thrives in hot, dry weather and soils that are gravelly, saline, or even contaminated with heavy metal. The fast-growing annual can be found in grasslands, but also performs well in areas where the ground is disturbed or nearly bare, such as fire breaks and along the edges of highways, roads, and trails.

Stinkwort gets its name from the camphor-like smell of its sticky, resinous foliage. The annual plant germinates in the winter, remaining small until spring when it grows rapidly into a three-foot tall, upright shrub.

Invading Spaces

stinkwort weed growing along roadway, person pulling plant

removing stinkwort along a roadway

An invasive plant like stinkwort can dominate an ecosystem by out-competing native food plants. Being non-native, it provides no benefit to Parkway animals and insects and lacks natural limitations on its growth. It crowds out native plant species by overtaking resources, such as sunlight, nutrients, and water, disrupting an already fragile habitat.

Stinkwort also contains  phytotoxins that inhibit the growth of surrounding vegetation, giving it a greater advantage over other plants.

Parkway wildlife species are dependent upon native plants for food and shelters, and some plant-eaters create important food sources for other species. For instance, insects that feed on a specific native plant may be an essential protein source for frogs, lizards, and birds. The decline of the native plant harms the insects, and the decline of the insects then harms the other animals, rippling throughout the food chain.

 

 

A Seedy Battle

stinkwort seeds

stinkwort seeds, photo credit: Country Mouse

A member of the sunflower family, stinkwort blooms in September, when other plants are already dormant or have gone to seed. Its small, yellow flowers produce highly transportable, dandelion-like seeds that are easily moved by water and wind. They also travel by gripping a variety of surfaces, including animal fur, human clothing, and vehicle or bicycle tires.

According to USDA reports, a single stinkwort plant can produce an estimated 70,000 tiny, highly transportable seeds known to move over 200 meters in the air — about two football-field lengths. This means that removal efforts must be diligently repeated until the bank of fallen seeds around the original plant has been depleted, and surrounding land must be regularly monitored for new areas of growth.

Fortunately, stinkwort seeds have a short life in soil, remaining viable for only two to three years.

 

Easy to Pull, Difficult to Contain

removing stinkwort with hand trowel

removing stinkwort with hand trowel

Stinkwort is known to defy most control methods, even returning rapidly after wildfire. Hand-pulling has proven to be the most reliable way to remove the weed. It has a relatively short root system, making it easy to pull out, especially after a rain.

However, if part of the plant remains, it can quickly regrow. Yet another challenge is that stinkwort seeds can ripen on pulled or cut plants if they have already flowered. Extracted plants must be securely bagged if they have any flowers or buds to avoid spreading seeds.

 

 

 

 

 

 

Tricky to Identify

stinkwort with small yellow flower

stinkwort with flower buds

Removing stinkwort from the Parkway habitat begins with accurately identifying the plants, which isn’t as simple as it may sound. Our Invasive Plant Management Program (IPMP) volunteers are trained to distinguish this invasive plant from important native plants that look incredibly similar.

 

 

 

 

tarweed yellow flowers

tarweed flowers, photo credit: The Amateur Anthecologist

One such beneficial plant is tarweed (Madia elegans). Like stinkwort, tarweed is also an annual shrub with sticky, aromatic foliage, small yellow flowers, and tiny seeds that easily parachute. It is also a late-bloomer and thrives in full sun, low water conditions, and the unwelcoming, hard-packed soil along roadsides.

Unlike stinkwort, tarweed is a native plant. The seeds of tarweed are eaten by many birds and small mammals, such as mourning doves, quail, mice, and ground squirrels. Blooming through the fall, tarweed is an important late-season nectar source for butterflies and pollen source for bees.

 

 

 

 

Dangerous Encounters

pulled stinkwort plant

pulled stinkwort plant

The hazards of stinkwort warrant special handling by volunteers and extend beyond the Parkway ecosystem. The plants also are known to cause allergic reactions and severe dermatitis in some people who come in contact with the sticky resin, so we provide our volunteers with protective gloves to wear while pulling and bagging the weeds.

Dogs that walk through dense patches of stinkwort have been known to vomit, reportedly from ingesting or inhaling the bristles, according to some studies.

Oils in the plant have been known to taint the flavor of meat and milk of animals that have consumed the plants. Sadly, stinkwort seeds can kill grazing livestock, such as sheep and horses. Barbs on the fluffy-tipped seeds reportedly damage the animals’ digestive systems. 

 

 

 

 

Join the Effort

Because stinkwort is relatively new to the region, we may still have time to effectively eradicate it from the Parkway with vigilant efforts.

Invasive plant management is an essential part of conserving and nurturing the American River Parkway. Stinkwort is one of several invasive plant varieties that compromise the Parkway ecosystem and are managed by ARPF and our team of trained volunteers.

You can get involved by signing up for volunteer training or by making a donation to our Invasive Plant Management Program.

close up of yellow Spanish Broom flowers, blue sky in background

Putting the Squeeze on Spanish Broom

Spanish broom (Spartium juniceum) is a beautiful, hearty shrub with elegant yellow flowers.  It is a fast-growing  variety of the pea family, growing up to 10-15 feet tall in just a few years with roots that can extend several feet below the surface, even through rocky soil conditions.

It was introduced to California in 1848 as durable landscape ornamental because of its draught-tolerant properties and ability to root in less than ideal soil. By the late 1930s, Spanish broom was planted along mountain highways to prevent erosion.

So, why the fuss over such a pretty, practical plant?

Originating in the southern Mediterranean region of Europe, Spanish broom is an invasive, non-native plant that has no natural local predators and provides no benefit to native insects and animals. With nothing to keep it in check, Spanish broom quickly overtakes resources — sunlight, nutrients, and water — needed by native plants, which are needed  by area wildlife.

Because it can grow in tall, dense patches and produce substantial dry matter, Spanish broom can also create a serious fire hazard during the dry season.

How is Spanish broom removed?

Removing Spanish broom isn’t easy, and must include pulling out the entire root system to deter it growing back stronger. It also involves specific training and diligent repetition.

Even if the whole plant and root system are removed, seeds are a factor. One plant can produce 7,000 to 10,000 seeds in one season, and the seeds can remain viable for decades. A large seed bank is likely present in the soil around any mature Spanish broom plant. Seeds can also be moved to new locations by erosion, rain wash, and possibly ants.

Parkway areas where Spanish broom has been removed in the past are likely to have new plants sprout for years to come, and the plant can also establish itself in new locations. Restoring the natural habitat is a slow process that requires regular monitoring and proper removal of Spanish broom on an ongoing basis.

Identification
Spanish broom twig with orange ribbon tag

Spanish broom plant identified and tagged.

The first step with Spanish broom removal is accurately identifying the plants. When in bloom, the plants are more visible with their bright yellow flowers. However, after the plants have dropped their leaves, this becomes more difficult. Trained volunteers may need to scout and tag the shrubs for later removal during an Invasive Plant Management Program (IPMP) group event.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Equipment
two orange weed wrench tools

Weed wrench tools.

Because the root system is strong and must be removed completely, Spanish broom extraction requires special equipment, including a weed wrench designed to grip the base of the plant and gradually employ leverage to lift it out. This industrial tool costs about $250 each.

Other useful tools are trowels and pickaxes to help loosen surrounding soil and dislodge rocks.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Extraction Process
pulled Spanish broom root

Spanish broom root system.

Ideally, the weed wrench removes the whole plant, roots and all. Extraction tends to be more difficult during a draught season and easier after a good rain. According to long-term ARPF IPMP volunteer Dennis Eckhart, an established Spanish broom plant in challenging conditions can take as long as 30 minutes to remove properly.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

weed wrench close up with plant

Weed wrench in action.

In reality, this process is not only labor-intensive, it requires finesse to avoid breaking or shredding the plant stem. When seed pods are present, they must be collected before extracting the plant.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

broken Spanish broom stem

Broken Spanish broom stem

If the plant stem does break, creative problem-solving is important. Broken root systems can grow back even stronger than before, making it more difficult to remove them next year. Volunteers must dig down around the root, remove rocks, twigs, and vines, and attempt new approach angles — all while trying to minimize disruption to the surrounding natural habitat.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Invasive plant management is an essential part of conserving and nurturing the American River Parkway. Spanish broom is one of several invasive plant varieties that compromise the Parkway ecosystem and are managed by the American River Parkway Foundation and our team of trained volunteers.

You can get involved by signing up for volunteer training or making a donation to our Invasive Plant Management Program.

woman seated on a brown horse in front of a corral

Volunteer Highlight: Sue Fossum

I moved to Sacramento from Los Angeles in 1974, newly married and a recent nursing school graduate.  Since that time, I have enjoyed the serenity and beauty of the American River Parkway.

From walking the family dog on dirt paths, teaching my two young sons to bike on the paved trail and paddling on the river in our canoe when they were in Cub/Boy Scouts, each time on the Parkway provided an experience to be immersed in its natural beauty and wonder.

Since 1993, I have been privileged to enjoy the Parkway from the back of a horse, meandering down the trails. My rides often involve stopping when children and adults ask to pet my horse, educating them about horse behavior, providing directions — and, on occasion, providing some basic first aid.  Since 1999, I have been a member of the American River Volunteer Equestrian Trail Patrol (ARVETP) which is how I became more involved in, and learned more about, the Parkway.

The ARVETP, incorporated since 1995, has been working in concert with Sacramento County Regional Parks serving as ‘eyes and ears’ on the Parkway.

It allows me to meet new people, talk about the amazing wonders of the Parkway, and how we can all be better stewards of the ‘jewel’ that is in our midst.

Since 1998, the ARVETP has been an American River Parkway Foundation (ARPF) volunteer mile steward – first serving as volunteer stewards for Mile 10N, then Mile 3N and at present Mile 14S.  Along with trash pickup and assistance with ARPF’s Great American River Clean Up (GARCU), members of the ARVETP have provided countless hours of trail maintenance.

This trail maintenance is done, sometimes literally, from the back of a horse when riding on trails clipping overhanging branches that obstruct the trail for users.  More involved and labor intensive work days have also occurred working with the ARPF, the California Conservation Corps, and Sacramento County Regional Parks staff to assist with cutting/removing downed trees, bushes that block trail access, placing signage, and opening up trails that have become overgrown and unused.

Personally, I value the opportunity to represent the ARVETP as their ARPF volunteer mile steward, as it allows me to meet new people, talk about the amazing wonders of the Parkway, and how we can all be better stewards of the ‘jewel’ that is in our midst.

Having walked, ridden a bike, canoed, kayaked and ridden a horse along the Parkway, I have to be honest in saying that riding my horse is my favorite activity.  The slow pace of the trail allows me to see animal life up close, and I love stopping for people on the trail, allowing them to meet my horse.

It is amazing how a horse becomes a ‘magnet’ providing me with the opportunity to share what a wonderful asset the Parkway is and how we can all support it and make the trails safe for everyone that wishes to use them.

ARPF Welcomes Students Back to the River Bend Science Center

Students participate in hands-on learning at the River Bend Science Center.

Students attend class at the at the River Bend Science Center amphitheater.

Commencing with the 2021/22 school year, area students will return to in-person educational classes at River Bend Science Center in October.

What is the River Bend Science Center?

River Bend Science Center is a unique outdoor educational venue that features an amphitheater, group-learning areas with shade structures, and small team “nests,” each with a table and bench, interspersed along ten acres of American River shoreline.

The area was previously a dilapidated Campfire site that was reclaimed by Sacramento County. In 2012, the District Rotary 5180 and ARPF partnered with the community to make over $750,000 in improvements to revitalize this resource and make it available for educational programs.

River Bend Science Center is used for youth science, technology, engineering and mathematics (STEM) education classes. This hands-on, outdoor STEM program focuses on students from grades four through seven from the school districts of Elk Grove, Folsom Cordova, Galt, Golden Trails Natomas, Sacramento City, San Juan, Twin Rivers, and Center Unified.

The River Bend Science Center education program offers a multi-session course that includes:

  • • Nature Hike: Students learn about wildlife and plant species native to the Parkway, fostering awareness and appreciation for the natural environment.
    • Water Ferry Engineering Design: Student teams build small rafts using natural materials found on the Parkway and then float their rafts across a stream table to simulate historical transportation and travel challenges.
    • Macro Aquatic Invertebrates: Students observe invertebrates found in the river, record observations, and discuss how these organisms are part of a larger, complex food web.
    • Living vs. Non-Living Identification: Students observe and identify living and non-living organisms along the Parkway. This session replaces Macro Aquatic Invertebrates when river levels are too high for safe access.
Group of students along bank of the American River participating in a River Bend Science Center class.

Sacramento-area students engaged in hands-on science education at the American River.

ARPF manages the River Bend Science Center education program and facility with instruction provided by the Sacramento County Office of Education (SCOE).

Since its inception in 2015, this innovative educational program has served 76 Sacramento-area schools and nearly 8,000 students, over 80 percent of whom were from socio-economic disadvantaged households. These kids would not have the opportunity to come experience the Parkway without the extraordinary outreach efforts and talents of SCOE and the financial and organizational support of ARPF.

Sixty-six percent of students in Sacramento County attend schools with Title 1 funding under the Elementary and Secondary Education Act (ESEA), the oldest and largest federally funded education program intended to help underprivileged students.

How I help more students learn about natural resources?

River Bend Science Center classes represent one of the first exposures to nature for 90 percent of our participating students. Hands-on outdoor education is a powerful experience that brings environmental awareness to life and fosters the next generation of stewardship of the Parkway.

In 2020, ARPF and SCOE developed virtual field trips for use by teachers and parents. Now that in-person instruction is accessible again, ARPF hopes to expand the River Bend Science Center program to introduce even more young people to nature appreciation and education.

Our goal for the 2021/22 school year is to serve an additional 1,500 students. To do this, we need to raise over $40,000 to cover the cost of attendance for at least 25 field trip classes. About 60 students attend each class session. With your support, we can achieve that goal and enhance the educational experiences of Sacramento County children.

Each $25 donation gives one more student the opportunity to participate!

What’s Next for River Bend Science Center?

Plans are in the works for a much-needed public restroom facility at the River Bend Science Center.

The proposed restroom building will be constructed near the northern end of River Bend Park, on the west side of the existing asphalt walking trail leading up to the amphitheater. The solar-powered bathroom will feature drinking fountains and a concrete walkway for pedestrian access from the asphalt walking trail. The trail, walkway, and bathrooms are ADA-accessible, as are the majority of the educational structures.

Not only will the proposed restroom facility improve the learning experience and comfort for students of the River Bend Science Center, it will aid in better access for all River Bend Park visitors. By adding bathrooms, overnight camping events will also be possible. for both educational groups and scout troops!  The project will cost $160,000 and take about three months to complete once ground has been broken.

Your donation helps launch this essential restroom project!

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