Feed on

The first two volunteer workdays of the 2019-2020 academic year were, as usual, devoted to cutting back cattails in pHake Lake. The cattails weren’t planted when the lake was first constructed. They got there on their own. And, boy, do they love it! They grow very tall and thick, extending their territory with rhizomes that spread out into the lake. So even though the cattails are native, we devote time each year to cutting them back – otherwise, they would completely block off access to the lake for students and researchers.

Cattail cutting is big undertaking. First we get organized with saw, waders, and boats.

Carson and Yanai armed and ready to take off. ©Linda Worlow.


Nancy and Jesse don waders ©Linda Worlow.

Then we head off …

Yanai and Carson push off. ©Linda Worlow.


Off to find some cattails to cut! Hmmm, it looks like there’s no shortage. ©Nancy Hamlett.

… for close encounters with cattails.

Have saw; have boat; ready to cut cattails! ©Avinash Chauhan.


Watch out, cattails! Jacqueline is headed your way. ©Nancy Hamlett.

Next comes the actual cutting.

Cutting cattails. ©Nancy Hamlett.


That’s one cattail that’s not coming back! Jacqueline with a cattail she removed roots and all. ©Nancy Hamlett.

Sometimes we find interesting things in the cattails. There were a lot of spiders, but also these:

We found a lot of these – dragonfly exuviae – the empty larval shells left behind after a dragonfly larva has metamorphosed into an adult and flown away. ©Nancy Hamlett.

Once the cattails are cut, we can’t just leave them in the lake, where they would create a rotting mess that would remove oxygen from the lake water. So we collect them all …

Volunteers pile cut cattails in boats of drag them onto the shore. ©Avinash Chauhan.


Here come the cattails! ©Avinash Chauhan.


Avinash hauls out a load of cattails. ©Avinash Chauhan.


A boatful of cattails heads for the shore. ©Nancy Hamlett.

… and take them to a vehicle-accessible location, where they will be collected and taken away for mulch or compost.

Unloading the cattails from the boat. ©Nancy Hamlett.


The first week’s pile of cattails. ©Nancy Hamlett.


The Bonita High Environmental Club with an even BIGGER pile of cattails after the second week of cutting. ©Avinash Chauhan.


Cutting cattails is thirsty work! ©Nancy Hamlett.

And a special thanks to the Bonita High Environmental Club for helping out! Great job, folks!

Some of the Bonita High School Environmental Club – thumbs up! ©Avinash Chauhan.

And here’s a peek at the difference the work has made.

Lake, what lake? View from the little island before cattail and brush trimming. ©Nancy Hamlett.

Ah, there’s the lake! View from the little island after cattail and brush trimming. ©Nancy Hamlett.


The south shore of the lake before any cattail trimming. ©Nancy Hamlett.

The south shore of the lake after the first day of cattail trimming. ©Nancy Hamlett.

The south shore of the lake after the second day of cattail and brush trimming. ©Nancy Hamlett.

We’ll have a least one more day of cattail cutting, so if you missed out on the fun, you still have a chance! Check the volunteer schedule for dates.

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