Take the $5 a month Pledge!

Back to Natives Needs your financial support today! Just $5 a month would put us back on track

Dear BTN Supporters, (Volunteers, Members, Advisory Council, Board, Donors),

We NEED YOU! Without your financial support, this could be the final year of Back to Natives Restoration. Have you volunteered with Back to Natives? Interned? Served on the Board of Directors or Advisory Council? Back to Natives Needs YOU! Funding is tight, and we have projects that need staff to lead and train volunteers to perform habitat restoration as well as grow more locally native plants in the Back to Natives Nursery. We also need supplies and equipment to secure our Barns and the BTN Nursery grounds. For that, we need your financial support.

I am not asking for much, I personally have committed ALL of my savings, and MORE to this past season. But I am supposed to be staff, not a donor. I am an employee and have no money left to give and must pay my own mortgage, and loans back, that I took out to pay BTN’s debt. Please help me help Back to Natives! I don’t have anything else to commit. I have even taken out personal loans and maxed my credit card to be sure BTN can continue its mission. But…

BTN can’t do it without you. Back To Natives Restoration Needs your support. Just $5 per month is all I ask. Is that too much in comparison to my savings? $5 per month, with EVERYONE on this email list, and social media friends, pledging $5 per month, BTN’s funding would increase by $70,000 per month! Right now we have only raised $40,000 for the Fiscal year 2018, since July 2018(and ends June 30, 2019). But our budget calls for $240,000 to even come close to achieving our habitat restoration and native plant propagation goals. Can you help? Just $5 per month.

You can also contact us to ask what you can pay for directly, to help our mission. we are not seeking items that can be stolen. We are seeking funding for staff, and operations to perform our mission, as well as equipment to make our BTN Nursery more secure. Like steel bars, building materials, steel fences, concrete and more.

You can use our merchant services online to make a donation or become a member. You can still use PayPal, or select “use credit card” and use our secure intuit merchant services!
Even better for BTN, as in no fees taken out of your donation, enroll in Bill Pay through your financial institution. Pledge $5 per month, or more if you can afford more, and have your financial institution send the check to:

Back to Natives Restoration
PO BOX 10820
Santa Ana, CA 92711

You’re always being asked to help with causes that are far away. Those causes are important, but if you really want to see results from your efforts and from your donations, act locally. Donations help to ensure that Back to Natives service learning and habitat restoration programs continue – and we are a 501(c)3 non-profit public charity – so your donations are tax deductible.

If you think Internships should be paid, then help us fund those paid Internships!

You can choose to donate once or on a monthly basis to help assist Back to Natives with the many programs and projects we have in the works. Your small monthly donation will be a HUGE help to Back to Natives! Pledge today. We Need you, to help save the world right here in the County and Southern California!

Thank you for your support,

Reginald I. Durant
Executive Director
Back to Natives Restoration, a 501(c)(3) public charity

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My Time with Back to Natives Restoration

Crystal with Director of Education Lori Whalen.
Crystal with Director of Education Lori Whalen.

By Crystal Sayphraraj

My name is Crystal Sayphraraj and I am a senior about to graduate California State University, Fullerton. My experience with Back to Natives Restoration was truly incredible and an amazing self-learning experience. When I first started this internship, I was a bit skeptical on what I can do or learn from the organization.

For example, what are native plants? How does working for a native plant restoration non-profit help me in pursing and gaining experience for my Communications degree? All I knew when I began this journey was that I loved being outdoors and active so I thought to myself that working for an organization that spends a lot of time out in the wilderness would be exciting. In fact, this was one of the most beneficial learning opportunities I received from an internship.

Crystal (right) and Alex (left), BTN's Spring 2016 interns posting to social media during the I Heart OC Giving Day event.
Crystal (right) and Alex (left), BTN’s Spring 2016 interns posting to social media during the I Heart OC Giving Day event.

Back to Natives Restoration has a passionate team of leaders that wish to inform and inspire the community about habitat restoration through service learning and native plant education.

Their mission is “To encourage and actively participate in the restoration and conservation of Orange County and California wildlands, through education and restoration programs featuring native plants and biodiversity as a centralizing theme.”

Even though I had no knowledge about native plants beforehand, the internship gave me the opportunity to brush up on some research skills. Instantly, I was assigned tasks to write press releases, create a video for the training class, media alerts, graphic design and social media posts.

Being a virtual internship, I did a lot of the assignments from the comfort of my own home computer. Director of Education, Lori Whalen, responded to my emails immediately and gave me direct feedback on what needed to be changed or what I succeeded on. After the changes were made, each document was scheduled for release.

I received the best feeling when I knew that an assignment I had worked on was being published.

The reason why this internship was so valuable was because we were assigned projects that corresponded with real events. I had the opportunity to go to a USFS training course, an IHeartOC event, and also the Spring Garden Show. These were all new events that I have not known about but had a positive experience attending all of them.

Executive Director, Reginald Durant, always displayed a leadership role in teaching the class, workshops or seminars on certain topics such as how to create a native habitat for Monarchs. You could hear the passion in his voice for every speech he gave.

Working for this non-profit organization has also made little affects in my daily routine. I remember during winter, they had construction on the whole campus and took out all the grass and some trees. I wondered what plans they had for these planters around school.

Walking around the CSUF campus, I noticed pretty flowers blooming in the spring. Instantly, I was able to recognize that all the plants were native plants. I was surprised myself that I could recognize these plants but it was a nice feeling to know that not only did I write for the organization but I was able to learn a little about the plants itself. Plants on campus range from Monkey Flower, Small Fescue, Coreopsis Lanceolata, Baby Blue Eyes and 16 more California Native and Adaptive Plants.

It’s interesting because initially, you don’t see how communications and native plant restorations correlate with each other but after completing this internship, I learned that communications is needed everywhere!

Yes, you can work for something you truly have a passion for, but how will you share your passion with others if you cannot market and display your work efficiently? With communications, the non-profit organization is able to gain followers on social media, receive grants, increase attendants at events they hold and just inform others of the good they are doing for the Orange County community.

Communications is the key to “inform and inspire” the community about habitat restoration through service learning and native plant education.

I was able to help Back to Natives Restoration for these short 3 months to achieve their marketing goals and also gain experience in communications writing and native plants.

I am truly thankful for the experience I received from Back to Natives Restoration and will take the knowledge I have learned to future endeavors.

How to Remove your Lawn

A woman removing a lawn at a Back to Natives lawn removal workshop.
A woman removing a lawn using a sod cutter at a Back to Natives lawn removal workshop.

The best practice for removing lawn, in my experience, is either using a sod cutter or a flat shovel to cut under the rhizomes. If you spray with chemicals then you just have dead grass that you now have to handle directly with the cancer causing chemicals on it. However it does not kill the rhizomes! Only the foliage, hence the term defoliant. Rototilling breaks the rhizomes into neat ½” and ¼” pieces if it doesn’t wind around the till. Bermuda and Augustine grass can regrow from ¼” or smaller pieces of rhizome bits. This means that you will have a nice healthy lawn all neatly de-thatched within a week after you rototill! =]

Sod cutters are available for rent at A-1 rentals, some Home-Depots, USA Rentals etc. set it for the 6” depth and then run it along like a vacuum cleaner with nice straight lines up and down the lawn area. Then go through and using a flat shovel cut into two to three foot lengths so you can move them easier. I suggest piling them onsite to allow to dry out and reclaim the soil from the rhizomes. This also reduces the weight for waste hauling costs. Remember the rhizomes cannot be put into green waste only trash. If they find grass rhizomes in a truck hauling green waste they transfer the entire truck haul to landfill. Rhizomes will not die during hot composting and are considered an invasive pest for green waste facilities.

Another good technique would be to solarize the area after you have removed as much of the sod as possible and gone through the area for any rhizomes not removed in this manner. Solarizing is a method of seed and root kill by placing a large CLEAR polyethylene sheet over the area, sealed to the ground at the edges with bermed soil. Then left onsite for 3-4 weeks. The heat buildup will sterilize the soil, hopefully killing the remaining rhizomes. Two caveats, 1. This kills EVERYTHING in the soil good and bad 2. Bermuda and Augustine Grass are highly resistant to chemicals and heat applications. Rancho Santa Ana Botanic Garden found that the Bermuda grass under an area they solarized did not completely die. One rhizome grew over twenty feet to escape under the edge of the plastic.  Most of the Bermuda grass present did die, but this rhizome persisted. This just clearly points out that there is no one silver bullet. It is a mixture of different physical techniques that work in the long run with persistence. Once you have accomplished these steps the war of attrition begins. This entails pulling any green you see that may pop up from stray rhizomes. Just 6 hours of daylight allows the rhizome to store another 30 days of starch so you must pull it as soon as see it. Don’t allow yourself the luxury “I’ll pull that when I get home.” Unfortunately that leads to a very long battle indeed.

Best of luck!

– Reginald Durant, Executive Director, Back to Natives