SAFCA Fisherman’s Lake Marsh Complex, Natomas Basin, Sacramento, CA

August 2012 – June 2013

We secured this contract with SAFCA (Sacramento Area Flood Control Agency) in July of 2012. We were to provide over 61,000 marshland plants, all in 1 gallon containers. The specific species and  quantities were:

  • Scirpus californicus (California bulrush) – 41,146
  • Juncus hesperius (Common rush) – 6,000
  • Carex praegracilis (Slender sedge) – 6,000
  • Eleocharis macrostachya (Common spikerush) – 6,000

We were fairly new to growing marshland plants, so I had to do some research to find out the best methods of propagation and growing. The Scirpus was the hard one. I called nurseries that, I thought, had experience in growing the bulrush. Suggestions leaned towards propagation from root pieces. I thought, “How am I going to propagate 41,000 plants from root pieces?” I did not have mother stock. One nursery’s method was to produce them from divisions from 1 gallon plants. That fine for them since they had the plants already. Or get permission to access private land to dig them up using a backhoe? –  yeah, right…fat chance!.I had to get them going soon, as fall was approaching and the contract called for delivery in the spring. I didn’t even know where the native stands existed. So, after may forays into the valley and delta, I now know that plant very well. The California bulrush is bright green, has a triangular strem cross-section, and prefers to be in water periodically. The more common Hardstem bulrush (Scirpus acutus) is blue-green, has a circular stem cross-section, and is common in farmland ditches, and is more widely spread along the roads and fields in the valley and foothills.

I found that seed propagation of the bulrush is possible, but a 3 month stratification (cold moist chilling period – “put the seeds in the refrigerator”) is required. I didn’t have time for that! I needed to germinate them NOW, grow them protected in the greenhouse through the winter, then plant them out into the 1 gallon containers as soon as possible in the late winter/early spring. The research I found said that the germination rate, at best, would be 2% or less. So, after seeding some 150 flats, minimum 15,000 seeds per flat, I did obtain the numbers needed.

We made our deliveries, on schedule, in the spring of 2013. I went back to the site several times after the planting was done, and was surprised of how fast the plants got established. I felt the project was challenging and called me to reach out and seek information and resources, as well as putting in the many hours to make it successful. And special thanks to Sarah, my wife and business partner, for putting in many hours of collection and seed cleaning!

Westervelt Restoration Project, Consumnes River, Thornton, CA

October 2009 – December 2010

This project was the restoration of farmland – vineyards – to a natural floodplain. The project was to restore the land to natural habitat and at the same time provide flood control as the land could then be periodically flooded as needed when river levels rose. Our job consisted of collecting seed onsite and growing them, and finally, delivery to the site.

We grew the plants successfully, using air root pruning methods to produce superior root systems.


Mark Young, Westervelt Ecological Services, Inc., website:

Doty Ravine Restoration Project, Lincoln, CA

October 2007 – November 2008

This was the first native plant growing contract for High Ranch Nursery! From seed collection in 2007 and through the growing season of 2008, we grew some 6,000 plants for this restoration project north of Lincoln in Placer County. The land is owned by Placer Land Trust, and the project was done by Westervelt Ecological Services, to whom we provided our products and installation services.

The installation took about 4 weeks, and the project was very successful, as the new tree canopies and natives along Doty Ravine have been established.

(side note: High Ranch Nursery no longer does installation of plants)


Mark Young, Westervelt Ecological Services, Inc., website:

Justin Wages, Placer Land Trust, website: