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Volunteer Spotlight: Hugo Landecker

Posted on August 25, 2016


Describe your volunteer activity with San Rafael?

As weather permits, I pull French broom from the 15 acre Gerstle Park open space. This project started about 25 years ago. At that time, nobody knew this area was public open space. The primary entrance was marked with no trespassing signs. Even if a hiker didn’t heed the signs the area was so overgrown that hiking was impossible. It took years to find the long abandoned fire roads; no one knew where they roads went. Eventually, my work exposed the roads and now they require light maintenance each year. Once the roads were exposed hikers came, a few at first, then more and more. With the roads were more or less done, I tackled the other areas as this plant is a fire hazard. Some of the French broom plants were 30 feet high, although they say it doesn’t grow over 15 feet! Some had trunks up to 4 inches in diameter, I called these the grand-daddy’s. One trunk had 92 annual rings!

Here is my approach to remove this invasive plant. I begin with a brisk walk uphill early in the morning. Pull broom frantically until totally exhausted. Then take a cool walk downhill to home, have cup of coffee and start the day. I do this from November to May, seven days a week unless others events intervene. During the summer it is either too hot or the ground is too dry and hard for this work. Also the broom is shedding seeds. Pulling it will only spread the seeds more. During the past few years, because of the drought, I have had to delay the start and stop earlier in the season.

Thankfully there are other volunteers pulling broom too, maybe not as tenacious as I, but their help is appreciated. The area has become a community asset that nobody previously knew existed.

Why did you choose to volunteer for San Rafael?

Volunteering is rewarding and useful to all.

What do you enjoy most about your volunteer work?

Getting fresh air and exercise, meeting new people and at the end of each session I can look back and see an accomplishment.

What accomplishment are you most proud of as a volunteer?

My reward for doing this is to see all the hikers using this open space daily. They enjoy it and it is so close to home. It doesn’t get any better than this!

What other volunteer activities do you do?

I serve on the Board of Directors for the Gerstle Park Neighborhood Association and the Steering Committee for the Federation of San Rafael Neighborhood. I am the vice president of San Rafael Heritage and I head a San Rafael citizens group that has interests in the homeless impacts on our community.

What do you suggest to those considering volunteering with the City?

Volunteering is all good, there is no bad.

In a few words, describe your volunteer experience.

I like doing things that others can enjoy and use.

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