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John Watson

John Watson
Invasive Weed Specialist, Cache Creek Conservancy
I think it's a wonderful place.

John Watson has worked at the Cache Creek Nature Preserve for the past 10 years, and he has enjoyed every minute of it. John has made significant contributions to the preservation of Cache Creek by helping eradicate invasive weeds and creating a memorial garden for Jan Lowrey, the Cache Creek Conservancy Executive Director who helped establish the Nature Preserve. 







Tell us about the type of work you have done here?


I was hired to do invasive weed control on a 14-mile stretch of the creek from the Capay Dam to just about the I-5 bridge. There were two basic weeds we were trying to eradicate. One was tamarisk, and the other was arundo. Part of this site here, you couldn’t even see any trees when we started attacking the arundo and the tamarisk. We got it pretty well under control, but it has been a real harsh struggle to get control of these weeds.  Then I started helping Shannon Brawley on the Tending and Gathering (TGG) garden project.  It’s been a real nice experience for me. 


Why is this preserve important to you?


This preserve is important because we’re able to show all the landowners on the creek what we do: how we eradicate some of the invasive species, the grasses and native plants we’ve grown.  The oak woodlands: there’s only just a few of these around the whole area now; the whole valley was like that 200 years ago. It’s nice to be able to preserve that and to keep it. Thank gosh the county has done that in this 130-acre parcel.   Also, 


Could you describe where we are and what you see around you?


The area we are in right now is a memorial garden for Jan Lowrey. The area is all planted with native trees and shrubs. Almost everything you see here on memorial garden  is probably found somewhere along this 14 mile stretch of Cache Creek. You might not see it in all areas, but up and down the creek you will see all of these shrubs or bushes. 


Can you tell me about an activity you have been involved with on this land?


I was instrumental in putting this memorial garden together. It was all volunteers, but I had a crew, and we planted all the plants and established the drip irrigation and everything else. We take pride and I know Jan is looking down on us and is real happy with what we’ve secured and have today.


Did you know Mr. Lowrey well?


Mr. Lowrey is the one who hired me. He had a great passion for the creek, grew up by the creek, by the town of Rumsey, and probably knew more about the creek than anybody I’d ever talked to. Every time I talked to him, it was a real pleasure to learn some of the basics and some of the things he’d been around over the past 50 or so years. 


How did Mr. Lowrey help begin the Nature Preserve?


When I first came out here, Jan was working on grants with the Wildlife Conservation Board and secured money to get rid of invasive weeds. With his diligence, persuasiveness, and grant writing abilities he was able to secure grants from the Wildlife Conservation Board for $500,000 and got another $400,000 grant through CalFed. Through his diligence, and writing ability, we were able to start all these projects with this fundings. Between Jan and the staff, we were able to convince a lot of other people what it meant to get rid of invasive weeds on the creek.  We brought the landowners in, and they were sold on it. I think it’s been a real positive thing. 


What have been some of your favorite memories or experiences here?


I think this memorial garden as a tribute to Jan is very good. I really enjoyed helping Shannon Brawley put the TGG together, the first native plant garden for the local tribe, and making all these trails available to all the schools. Those three things are probably the most important because they’re going to be here forever. 


Is there an experience that really stands out to you?


Well when we first came we had some continuation students from the Cache Creek High School, the local continuation high school. They came out and worked 2-3 hours. They helped plant the TGG. They did some eradication and built some of the trails. They’ve come back and walked some of the trails with me. I think they take great pride in it.   



Why is this place important for Yolo County?


I think this is an area where we can bring kids and Scout projects. It’s so close to town. A lot of these inner city kids have no place like this to see what native habitats look like, some of the wildlife and birds. I think it’s a wonderful experience—5 miles from Woodland, 15 miles from Davis. It’s a great thing.  It shows how the county looked 100 years ago, 150 years ago. I just think it’s wonderful.  I hope the county and conservancy keep working on this for the next 100 years and are able to keep this a viable project. There are very few of these kinds of places and it just gets better and better to me. I think it’s going to progress, be more beautiful in the future, and have more wildlife.



Written by: 
Helen Trejo

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