The Tolowa Dee-ni' Nation and Tolowa Dunes Stewards are seeking volunteers for a special effort to continue restoration work at Tolowa Dunes State Park on Saturday.

Brian Wagenaar, a member of the California Conservation Corps' Watershed Stewards Program who's working with the tribe, said he hopes to engage the community on a project that protects or restores salmonid habitat. To do this, he has organized a Beach Grass Bonanza in the hopes of attracting at least 30 people to pull the invasive plant near the mouth of lakes Earl and Tolowa.

"With the estuary right there, we thought it'd be a good project to work on with the Tolowa Dunes Stewards and help them restore (the area) to a more natural state to benefit the whole lagoon ecosystem," Wagenaar said. "I honestly am not even sure what an average person can pull in three hours. I'm just trying to get people out there and working."

Wagenaar's Beach Grass Bonanza will target European beachgrass at a "strategic location" the Tolowa Dunes Stewards have been working to restore for about 9 years, said Keri Mosey, who works with the nonprofit volunteer-based organization. Pulling the invasive plant by hand and using shovels, the Tolowa Dunes Stewards have cleared roughly six acres near the mouth of the lagoon.

According to a press release from the California Conservation Corps and AmeriCorp, removing European beachgrass restores the dunes to their native state, helps the lagoon breach naturally and benefits native plants and animals including the threatened snowy plover as well as steelhead trout and other salmonids.

Recently, Mosey said, the Tolowa Dunes Stewards received a $300,000 grant enabling the nonprofit to use heavy equipment and paid work crews to continue its beachgrass eradication efforts.

"It's the biggest amount we've ever had to do restoration in that area," Mosey said. "It was the first opportunity to bring heavy equipment and really do some damage on the ridge line on the coast there."

In the past three weeks, the Tolowa Dunes Stewards hosted its first paid work crew, Mosey said. Workers with the Northwest Youth Corps cleared work in an area that was the focus of youth volunteers. She said the nonprofit organizations had permits to use heavy equipment for restoration, but not the funding.

That $300,000 grant came from the California Wildlife Conservation Board in August, Tolowa Dunes Stewards program director Sandra Jerabek told the Triplicate in November.

While the focus of the Bonanza is to spend part of the day pulling European beachgrass, Wagenaar said he hopes it will spread awareness about the invasive plant and potentially increase the core group of volunteers that work with the Tolowa Dunes Stewards year-round.

"If we can get a handful of people to come out more, that's the greater goal than just the one day," he said.

Volunteers should meet at 9 a.m. Saturday at the Lake Earl Wildlife Information Center, 2591 Old Mill Road in Crescent City. If it rains, the event will be postponed to Sunday.

Volunteers should wear closed-toed shoes, bring water and light snacks. Refreshments will be provided for volunteers at the beginning and end of the event. The Beach Grass Bonanza involves a two-mile round trip walk over level ground.

For more information, call Brian Wagenaar at (952) 237-1779 or email brian.wagenaar@tolowa.com .

Reach Jessica Cejnar at jcejnar@triplicate.com .

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