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Adopt a Flat: Fall 2007, Winter 2007

We are once again entering the season of creek restoration!  The Putah Creek Council and UC Davis Putah Creek Riparian Reserve will be hosting the Adopt-A-Flat Program for the third year. Volunteers with this program raise native grass plugs and return to plant them at the UC Davis Riparian Reserve. Over the past two years, volunteers raised and planted 14,000 native grass plugs.

At the seeding days, PCC and the Riparian Reserve will provide volunteers with native grass seed, trays, soil, and instructions. One seeding day took place on Saturday, October 14 and the next is scheduled for Saturday, November 11. The seeding days will take place from 10:00 AM until noon.

Individuals and classrooms have also been involved with the Adopt-A-Flat project. We are working to develop in-classroom activities for teachers to accompany the grass plug flats. 

If you have a class or multiple classes interested in participating in the program, please contact Dawn Calciano at (530) 795-3006 or so that we can arrange for enough materials for class participation. Alternate seeding and planting dates can also be arranged.

Directions to the site:

  • From Interstate 80 take the Highway 113 exit North toward Woodland.
  • From Highway 113, exit at UC Davis-Hutchison Drive
  • At the stop sign turn left on Hutchison Drive and go 1.4 miles.
  • Turn left (south) onto Hopkins and go to the end.
  • Turn left and park along the road.
  • This is the Alpha Phi Omega Picnic Grounds at the center of the reserve.

Why Native Grasses?

Native grasses, like the ones used in our seed mixes from Hedgerow Farms are well adapted to local environmental conditions.  They evolved with the other plants and animals in the area.  Native grasses help to maintain or improve soil fertility, reduce erosion, and often require less fertilizer. One of the most important reasons, especially for Putah Creek, is that functioning, healthy native grass and plant communities are better able to resist invasive plant species (like arundo and the prickly yellow star thistle). Native plants also provide familiar sources of food and shelter for wildlife.

Here are some highlights of our most-used grasses (thanks to the Yolo County Resource Conservation District “Know Your Natives” guide for this information):

Creeping Wildrye: This tall grass spreads by rhizomes (underground roots that can form new plants), making it good for ero sion control. It lies flat during flooding, so water flows past. It grows on mostly heavy soils in riparian areas and is the most com mon and widespread native grass of the Sacramento Valley. It provides good water fowl and upland game nesting habitat.

Purple needlegrass: Our California state grass, this is well adapted to droughty soils and clay soils. It has a strong root system and establishes well on disturbed areas. It will resprout after spring or fall burns.

Blue Wildrye: This highly variable species is a very tall perennial bunchgrass. It tol erates wide variations in soil and weather conditions. It is good for streambank resto ration and excellent for burned or disturbed areas in oak woodland. It can provide habi tat for mammals, birds, and waterfowl.

Slender Wheatgrass: Adapted to clay soils, this perennial bunchgrass is tall, up­right, and fast growing. It prefers open, sunny areas and is primarily a riparian and wetland grass. It provides habitat for nest ing birds and wildlife and its dense root system allows it to survive most fires. It was used by Native Americans for food.

Additional Information

To download a PDF of the instructions to care for you flat, please click here for the Adopt a Flat Instruction Page

Native grasses included in the seed mix:

  • Purple Needlegrass (Nassella pulchra)
  • Creeping Wildrye (Leymus triticoides)
  • Squirrel Tail (Elymus multisetus)
  • Meadow Barley (Hordeum brachyantherum)
  • Blue Wildrye (Elymus glaucus)
  • Slender Wheatgrass (Elymus trachycaulus)


For more information on native grasses:


CA Native Grass Association Know Your Natives: A Pictorial Guide to California Native Grasses (Full color images of seeds, seedlings, mature plants, and seedheads of 20 grass species on heavy glossy stock paper for field use).  Costs $30 and is available by contacting the Yolo Resource Conservation District at (530) 662-2037, ext. 119 or .