Elkhorn Slough - National Estuarine Research Reserve entrance
We weren't sure if Elkhorn would be open considering the federal government shutdown. Unlike many people, the only impact that we've noticed for us has been closed parks. We had hoped to camp at Pinnacles National Park during fall break, but we scrapped those plans with the shutdown. My backup plan was to go to nearby Kirby Park if the NERR was closed, but it wasn't. What surprised me was to see folks in CA Dept of Fish and Wildlife (formerly Game) uniforms. I don't know how I missed that. Elkhorn Slough confuses me as to which agency does/owns what. Apparently, the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) is also involved. After inquiring, come to find out the Nature Center is run by CADFG. I did not know that. They do a nice job.
The tide was very high during our visit. One of the main walkways was almost covered in water. I don't get too excited about the proliferation of invasive plants here, like poison hemlock, but for some reason I still want to go back to visit the Slough. I've even come to like the soothing rattling sound of wind-blown dried harding grass. It looked like they had recently done some extensive mowing. They have an incredibly work-intensive management plan. I think I'd feel defeated if I worked there. It could be coincidental, but it seems like we've seen less and less wildlife (snakes and rabbits) in recent years since they've stepped up their attempts to get rid of invasive plants.
All surrounding the Slough, the farmers are just now covering their lands with a fresh round of plastic (seen in the middle picture above on the surrounding hills) for another planting of strawberries, one of Monterey County's most valuable crops. This type of plasticulture really bothers me. The waste generated must be incredible. I've been wondering if anyone makes biodegradable plastic for strawberry farming. If I did it, I'd make it so the farmer could till the plastic into the soil as a soil replenisher. I bet the chemistry wouldn't be too difficult to figure out. The biggest hurdle would be to invest in an efficient manufacturing process so that it would be cost effective for the farmers.